Copy-Cat Panera Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
6 cups chicken broth
2 chicken breast halves (cooked, boneless and cubed)
1 (6 ounce) package long grain and wild rice blend, quick cooking version (You will use the seasoning packet)
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
3⁄4 cup butter (12 tbsp. or a stick and a half)
1 cup carrot, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup onion, diced
3 cups light cream (can lighten by substituting part or all of the cream with fat-free evaporated milk, or half-and-half)
Open rice, pull out seasoning packet and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine pepper and flour. Set aside.
In a large pot over medium heat, combine broth and chicken. Bring to a boil, then stir in rice. Cover and remove from heat.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add carrots, celery and onion and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in contents of seasoning packet, and continue cooking vegetables until softened, about 5 minutes more. Add seasoned flour gradually while constantly stirring, to form a roux. Saute roux for 3-4 minutes to cook out raw flour taste.
Whisk in cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Cook until thickened, 5 minutes.
Stir cream mixture into broth and rice. Cook over medium heat until heated through and rice is done,15-20 minutes.
Alternatively, for those who cannot get the quick-cooking version of the rice, I have put the broth on to boil and cooked the 25-minute version of long grain and wild rice blend according to the directions, while sauteeing the veggies in the butter. I tend to cook the veggies longer this way, and I like them quite soft. I then follow the rest of the directions above, adding the rice/broth to the cream mixture. I've also used fat-free half and half with no appreciable difference in flavor.