Nearly every week, I boil up a chicken and make a new variation of chicken soup. This week’s take is a spicy chicken and rice soup with beans recipe. It’s loaded with pinto beans and spices that will warm you right up on a dreary day. If you’ve wanted to learn how to make chicken and rice soup that packs a punch, this recipe is for you. I also have some tips for you if you want to freeze this chicken and rice soup, so keep reading.
Chicken and rice soup is a super popular chicken soup recipe, and you can find thousands of variations online and in cookbooks. My version starts with my homemade broth and loads up on spices and pinto beans. It’s a perfect pantry meal that is filling and comforting on a cold day.
There are a few components to this soup:
- The beans: I use dry pinto beans. Dry black or kidney beans would also be lovely in this. Use your favorite canned variety if needed and shorten the cooking time.
- The broth: My chicken soup always starts with homemade broth made from cooking a whole or cut-up bird in water with aromatics.
- The soup: The soup is made with just a few ingredients, including poblano peppers, onion, and many spices. Most of these spices are probably in your pantry already!
- Garnishes: Garnishes are a super fun way to complete this meal. Everything from minced onion to sliced avocado, sour cream, or crushed tortilla chips would work perfectly.
This recipe uses dry pinto beans from Rancho Gordo. You can absolutely use canned pinto beans, or you can substitute dry or canned black, kidney, or pink beans. Conventional wisdom has always told us to soak our beans overnight first, but that’s actually not necessary. While a presoak will save some cooking time, I actually prefer to simmer the beans in a separate pot as the chicken broth cooks.
If using dry beans, here are your options for cooking:
- Presoak: Soak the beans overnight with the aromatics you see above. This will not make the beans tender but will rehydrate them and reduce the cooking time.
- Simmer separately: Since I’m already simmering the chicken for an hour, I prefer the simmer method. Throw the beans and aromatics on the stove, cover with water, bring to a boil, and then simmer for an hour or so until mostly tender. They’ll continue to cook in the soup.
- Simmer in the soup: Believe it or not, you don’t have to do any prep work for beans beyond picking them over for rocks and debris. If you don’t mind increasing the final simmer time of the soup, throw the beans right into the soup dry. You’ll need to add an extra hour or two of cooking time, but if you’re not in a rush, this method may work well for you. My recipe adds the rice shortly after the beans are added because they’re already mostly cooked through. If using this method, you’ll want to add the rice toward the tail-end of the beans cooking. Otherwise, the rice will be overcooked.
How to make this chicken and rice soup with beans:
- Make the beans:
- This recipe uses the simmer separately method, so I start with that. Once the beans are bubbling away on the stovetop, I move on to the broth.
- Prepare the broth:
- The broth uses a whole chicken–though a cut-up bird will work well, too–and whole jalapeños and onion. Remember, you don’t need to remove the peels from the onion! Just give the whole thing a good scrub. The onion skins will add a deeper color and flavor to the broth! I keep it simple with just onion and jalapeño, but get creative and add your favorite aromatics to the pot. A whole head of garlic halved crosswise, would be nice. Bay leaves or peppercorns are also lovely additions.
- Once the broth finishes, place the bird in a large bowl and let it cool. Give the broth a good hard simmer for about 30 minutes to reduce the liquid down to about 8 cups. Strain it into a big bowl and discard the solids.
- Cook the soup:
- Once all the prep work is done, you’re ready to make soup! Heat up some oil and throw in those diced poblano peppers and diced onion. From there, add some minced scallions, cooked beans, and plenty of spices.
- Add your reserved broth and the shredded chicken. Bring it to a boil.
- If you followed the simmer separately method for the beans, go ahead and add the rice now. If your beans are still hard, let them simmer in the soup for a while until mostly tender. Then, add the rice. You don’t want to overcook the rice, so gauge when to add it based on the doneness of your beans.
- Prep your garnishes:
- While the soup finishes simmering, prep the garnishes. I like to serve tableside in little pinch bowls and let everyone garnish as they prefer. Try it with minced red onion, cilantro leaves with tender stems, sliced radishes, and sour cream. Diced avocado, crushed tortilla chips, or charred corn tortillas for dipping would be wonderful additions to this chicken and rice soup with beans.
Can I freeze chicken and rice soup?
The short answer is no. You cannot freeze chicken and rice soup as it’s prepared in this recipe. Rice, grains, and pasta aren’t very amenable to freezing in soup and take on a funky texture when unthawed. If you do want to make a big batch and freeze this chicken and rice soup, I recommend cooking the rice separately. The soup, without the rice, will freeze perfectly.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. If you’re looking for more chicken recipes, be sure to check my archives.
Spicy Chicken and Rice Soup Recipe
- Large pot
- Large pot
- Fine mesh sieve
- 6 scallions, trimmed and rinsed, divided
- 1 cup dry pinto beans or use 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans
- 1 shallot, peeled and sliced
- 4- pound whole or cut-up chicken, giblets reserved for another use
- 3 jalapeños, halved
- 1 yellow onion, scrubbed and halved (no need to remove peels unless you want to)
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 3 poblano peppers, trimmed, seeded, and diced
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder (or use another tablespoon of chili powder)
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons cayenne powder; use more or less to taste
- 1 cup white rice, thoroughly rinsed
- Sour cream
- Minced red onion
- Lime wedges
- Sliced radishes
Prepare the scallions:
- Slice 2 scallions into thirds; these will simmer with the beans. Mince the remaining four scallions and set them aside.
Prepare the beans (if using dry beans):
- Place the beans, two sliced scallions, and the shallot in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour until mostly tender. Once tender, pluck out and discard the big pieces of scallion. No need to fuss over the shallot pieces; they can cook in the soup. Drain the beans and set aside.
Prepare the chicken and broth:
- Place the chicken, jalapeños, and halved onion in a large pot and cover with water. Add a generous sprinkle of salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- Using tongs, carefully remove the bird and transfer it to a large bowl. Let cool.
- Turn the heat on the broth in the pot to a rapid simmer. Let simmer for 30 minutes or until it reduces to about 8 cups of broth. It will darken in color as it cooks down. Adjust the heat as needed if it reduces too quickly.
- Strain the broth into a large bowl through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard solids.
- Carefully wipe out the pot and return it to the stove.
- Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, pick the meat from the bones and shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Reserve or freeze the carcass for stock later if you like.
Prepare the soup:
- Heat 2 tablespoons neutral oil in the pot. Add the diced poblano peppers and diced onion. Sauté for 8-10 minutes. Add the remaining 4 minced scallions, and drained beans. Season generously with chile powder, ancho chili powder, paprika, cumin, and cayenne. Add a sprinkle of salt.
- Pour in reserved broth and shredded chicken and bring to a boil.
Simmer the soup:
- Stir in the rinsed rice. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until rice is tender. Add more salt if needed.
- Ladle the soup into bowls. Serve with sour cream, radishes, minced red onion, cilantro, and lime.