Julia Child’s Chicken and Rice Soup

julia child chicken soup recipe
There are so many great recipes in the book, Julia & Jacques: Cooking at Home, some of which seem too ordinary to mention on a food blog. But once one pauses to think of why recipes like that get included in such a high-profile book in the first place, one feels compelled to give these recipes a shot.

Nestled somewhere in the book, fully revealed (to all), yet somehow previously concealed (to me) is Julia Child’s chicken and rice soup recipe in which she blends together cooked white rice, and chicken stock in a blender to achieve a creamy, velvety soup with no added cream.

julia child soup recipe
No cream? Julia Child? No cream? This, from the woman to whom the “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream,” quote is attributed?


I’m sure the idea is not to avoid added fats, but to show the versatility of the humble leftover cooked rice. In this soup that seems so ordinary, especially to those of us who grew up eating jook or rice congee of some sort almost on a daily basis, rice brilliantly mimics the mouthfeel of fat/cream. I’ve made this recipe with brown rice and it’s just as good.

julia child mushroom chicken recipe
If you have any leftover rice that’s too soft to turn into good fried rice, this is a great way to use it. And those dry, stringy leftover chicken breasts? Cut them into strips and give them a second chance in life in this soup.

Creamy Rice Soup with Chicken and Shiitake Mushrooms
Based (extremely loosely) on Julia’s Creamy Chicken Soup with Rice
Serves 4

2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
Roughly 2 cups of very tender, cooked white or brown rice
8-10 ounces of sliced mushrooms1
About 1 1/2 cups of cooked chicken breasts2
1 1/2 tablespoons of finely-minced shallots or onions, sautéed in 1 tablespoon of butter or oil until soft
3-4 tablespoons of clarified butter
Korean red chilli powder3

  • Reserve one quart of the chicken or vegetable stock and heat the rest in a saucepan.
  • Put the reserved stock in a blender along with the cooked rice and blend until smooth; pour the puréed rice into the hot stock in the saucepan.
  • Bring the rice mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly.
  • When the soup reaches desired thickness, season to taste with salt and pepper. (I use Thai “white soy sauce” and ground white pepper.)
  • Stir in the mushroom slices and sautéed shallots; continue to cook just until the soup is heated through.
  • Just before serving, mix together the clarified butter and chilli powder. Drizzle the mixture over the soup and serve immediately.4

    1 Fresh shiitake mushrooms are used here.
    2 For a vegetarian version, omit the chicken breasts.
    3 The kind used to make kimchee.
    4Julia topped her soup with sour cream and chives.

  • 5 Responses to Julia Child’s Chicken and Rice Soup

    1. The Duo Dishes February 8, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

      The rice trick is so true, and it works. The body it adds to soup is amazing.

    2. kt February 8, 2010 at 11:45 pm #

      korean spicy powder makes everything better. 🙂 thank you for putting on battle mushrooms!

    3. Arwen from Hoglet K February 9, 2010 at 1:47 am #

      That’s a great idea with the rice. Creaminess without cream is a pretty good feat. The shitakes are a ncie idea too.

    4. Manggy February 9, 2010 at 5:37 am #

      I’ve heard about the rice trick before, but I never could believe it was a substitute for cream. I’ll take your word for it and try it sometime!

    5. Kristen February 10, 2010 at 10:53 pm #

      I wish I wasn’t in such a fog to miss battle mushroom. The entries look delicious!

      Thanks for posting that soup, as a non-dairy girl I am always on the look out for alternatives. I love that book, by the way, but I have forgotten all about it. It has some great classic recipes and the thoughtful banter between Jacques and Julia on techniques is informative. I look forward to revisiting that book, thanks!