THAI CHICKEN AND RICE SOUP IS ONE OF OUR FAVORITE COZY, ONE-POT WEEKNIGHT DINNERS THAT WE USUALLY MAKE ONCE A MONTH, REGARDLESS OF THE SEASON. WITH LIME JUICE, FISH SAUCE, SOY SAUCE, AND FRESH HERBS, IT’S SPICY, FRESH, AND PERFECTLY SALTY!
I hope everyone is staying safe at home with cozy sweatpants and Lovesick and cute animals and all of the homemade banana bread/sourdough/whatever is all the rage these days. I have really become the ultimate hermit version of myself, and I have gotten so much cleaning done. The other day, I used a toothpick to lodge the gunk out of the corners of my fridge. I don’t know what all that guck was buuuut…actually I don’t want to know. As for myself, I can’t even remember the last time I wore a full face of makeup or put on a real bra, and my standard for hair-cleanliness has really diminished. At some point, I think it will just turn into a permanent bun-shape on the top of my head.
In other news, while cleaning out my freezer the other day, I found a whole package of boneless skinless thighs! And, shortly after whilst cleaning out my pantry, I managed to dump almost an entire two-pound bag of rice on the top shelf and all over my floor. But, resources are precious right now, so I scooped up as much as I could from the top, and now I have Thai chicken and rice soup! It was worth the tediousness.
Let’s discuss Thai Chicken and Rice Soup
This Thai chicken and rice soup was inspired by traditional Khao Tom, a thick rice stew flavored with things like ginger and garlic and usually served with a protein like chicken, shrimp, and even eggs! It is more traditionally eaten for breakfast (or late night), and I would be lying if I said I have never eaten leftovers for brunch or after a beer (or four). The beauty of this soup is that you can pretty much add anything you have on hand! The broth has some brightness from the lime juice and a bit of funk from the fish sauce, which I am *in to*. Then, you pretty much just pile on all the delicious things you have in your fridge like scallions, cilantro, and Sambal Oelek!
The reason this is inspired by Khao Tom and is not actually a Khao Tom recipe is because this version isn’t very traditional. Many traditional versions I have seen use lemongrass and galangal. While I love those flavors, I find them hard to find in stores, so I made a version that use ingredients you can find in almost any grocery store!
What you’ll need for thai chicken and rice soup
This soup only needs a few basic ingredients, plus some that can usually be found in the Asian grocery aisle. However, other great places to look for these ingredients are local Asian grocery stores or Amazon! You’ll need:
- Neutral Oil: Like canola or grapeseed, for sauteeing.
- Onion: I would recommend yellow or brown. I also like shallots!
- Garlic: You want your soup nice and garlicky.
- Ginger: Galangal is more traditional, but use whatever you can find!
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs: Breasts would work as well!
- Low sodium Chicken Broth: I use Better Than Bouillon.
- Long Grain Rice: Brown, white, jasmine, basmati all work! I like brown jasmine rice.
- Lime Juice: Fresh always.
- Low Sodium Soy Sauce: Regular would work too, but could be a little salty.
- Fish Sauce: Honestly my favorite part, and I don’t even eat seafood. I use this brand. But, if you don’t want to use fish sauce, just use a small splash of rice vinegar or coconut aminos!
- Toppings: I like scallions or chives, cilantro, thinly sliced jalapeños or serranos, Sriracha or Sambal Oelek, and/or chopped Spanish peanuts!
Now let’s make Thai chicken and rice soup!
To make the Thai chicken and rice soup, you will start by sauteeing a diced onion until it’s nice and browned. Then, add garlic and ginger and stir it up until your kitchen smells so good, you think about opening up a candle line about it. Place the chicken thighs in the pot, and cover with the broth. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the broth and let cool. Shred the chicken, and set it aside for later.
Next, bring the broth to a boil, and add the rice. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let it cook for 40-45 minutes, until the rice has broken down and thickened the soup. It should be almost creamy at this point. Stir in the lime juice, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Taste, and add salt and pepper as necessary. Mix in the shredded chicken.
Divide the soup between six-ish bowls, and finish with your desired toppings!
Other protein options
If you don’t want to go with chicken, you can essentially use any protein you have on hand. Here are a few ideas!
- Beef: Grilled beef or even soy-sauce seasoned ground beef would be delicious! Just cook the ground beef before you cook the onions, and then set the cooked beef aside in a bowl. Add the beef back when you would add the shredded chicken.
- Pork: Seasoned pork meatballs would be delicious!
- Tofu: For a vegetarian version, just cook up some tofu, and serve it on top in place of chicken.
- Eggs: Another vegetarian option is serving poached eggs over the soup. This would be especially delicious for a breakfast variety!
- Shrimp: If you’re into seafood, just sear some shrimp before making the soup, and then serve the seared shrimpies on top!
Storing & freezing thai chicken and rice soup
To store the leftover soup, just place it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. Leave the toppings out of the leftovers, or they may get soggy! To reheat, just microwave for a few minutes or bring it to a simmer over the stove.
To freeze this soup, place leftovers in baggies, lay flat, and freeze for up to two months. Or, you can place the soup in glass jars! Leave a couple inches of space from the top to avoid expansion. To reheat, let defrost in the fridge overnight, and heat in the stove or microwave until hot.
Can I use leftover rice to make this soup?
Technically yes, but it will affect the texture. The purpose for cooking the rice for 40-45 minutes is to break down the starches in the rice, which will result in a creamy, thick broth! If we add pre-cooked rice, it will not have as many starches to break down, and the soup will not get as creamy. If you’re cool with that, feel free to add the pre-cooked rice! There have been many times where I get too impatient to wait for the rice to cook down, and I just eat it right when the rice finishes cooking. It’s good either way!
Side dish suggestions!
Although this soup is definitely a filling meal, I almost never eat dinner without some kind of vegetable. Here are a few of my favorite side dishes to go along with Thai chicken and rice soup!
- Roasted broccoli with garlic, red pepper flakes, and a squeeze of lime juice. Some crushed peanuts or cashews on top are great too!
- Thai cucumber salad
- A green salad with sesame-ginger or peanut dressing
Tips and tricks
- If you don’t want to wait around for the chicken to cook, just use about 3 cups of chopped rotisserie chicken.
- You can eat the soup as soon as the rice is cooked. However, if you want that thick and creamy texture, you will have to wait until the starches in the rice break down, which takes usually around 45 minutes.
- If you don’t have fresh herbs and spices on hand, just used dried! Fresh is obviously more flavorful, but whatever you have in your pantry will work.
Other Asian-inspired dishes you definitely need to try
Thai Chicken and Rice Soup
- 2 tbsp neutral oil, like grapeseed or canola
- 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tsp finely grated ginger
- 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 8 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup long grain brown rice, rinsed
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Chopped Spanish peanuts, cilantro, scallions, sliced jalapeños, and/or Sambal Oelek, for serving
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion, and saute until the onion is soft and browned on the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and stir, cooking until fragrant.
- Place the chicken in the pot, and cover with the low sodium chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the broth, and let cool slightly. Shred the chicken, and set aside for later.
- Bring the broth to a boil, and stir in the rice. Reduce to a simmer, and cook 40-45 minutes, until the rice breaks down and thickens the broth. At this point, the broth should be somewhat creamy. Add the lime juice, low sodium soy sauce, and fish sauce. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Stir the chicken into the soup.
- Divide the soup between six bowls. Finish with desired toppings and enjoy!
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the day: Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple