Get a recipe for chicken and rice soup that’s crockpot and freezer-friendly, plus perfect for cold, winter sick days.
Last fall, I had a moment of clarity while looking at our family’s calendar that life was about to get really busy. My husband was starting a new job, my son was headed back to school, I was spending more time working and caregiving. Plus all the everyday things that we already do: sports, getting together with friends and family, birthday parties, etc.
I knew that with a full schedule, life would pick up. And inevitably with all that going on and all the busy-ness of it all, one of us would be having a sick day in the not-so-distant future.
That’s why I decided that I was going to give my “future self” the gift of a healthy, warm meal. I don’t know about you, but when I’m sick or someone else in my family is sick, I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I want to be resting or taking care of them.
So I decided I was going to prep some ingredients for chicken soup and keep them handy in the freezer for any day that a sick day popped up. I think my husband thought I was a little crazy to anticipate sick days, but I feel like we’ve been through the early fall sick months many times over now, and I’d say I was more prepared than crazy.
I made four freezer bags of chicken soup ingredients, put instructions on the bags for how to finish out the soup, and gave myself the sick day gift of warm, hearty soup that will take one less job off my plate on a hard day.
Let’s go over some of the big reasons why I did this and why I think you might want to consider batching some freezer “sick day meals” too.
What better way to use an extra hour of my time than to help myself in the future? When I had some time right before the school year started, I made a plan to cook a few batches of chicken in my Instant Pot, chop or shred it, and use it for different meals.
Some of the chicken was turned into this soup. Some of it was used in some of my favorite casseroles that became freezer-friendly (chicken taco casserole). And some of it was frozen just as it was to be added to soups, salads, or other dishes later on.
With that cooked chicken ready, I portioned out about 3 cups of cooked chicken and added it to four different freezer bags. Next, I added chopped onions, carrots, and celery, and some seasonings. I closed the bags up, wrote myself some instructions for what to add and how to cook it directly on the bags, and magically had four meals for four different sick days ready to go.
All four bags were placed in the freezer and I’ve since used up each and every one of them for a day when one or a few of us were under the weather. It has worked out so well, and now I’m in need of making a few more!
If you can make one freezer meal of soup, it’s not that much work to make multiple. I chopped extra chicken, carrots, celery, and onions, and it was seriously that easy to make not just one, but four different soups ready for the freezer.
If you don’t have time to make your own chicken for this, you can buy a Costco rotisserie chicken for this recipe, or the cooked chicken in the bag that they offer. It would also work great for this.
Made in a crockpot
When it comes to soup, I usually make it one of three ways. 1) On the stove in my dutch oven, 2) in my Instant Pot, or 3) in my crockpot. Out of these three methods, my most preferred way to make it is either in my dutch oven or my crockpot. I always find there’s more flavor in the end with these methods.
For these recipes, coming from the freezer, it was easiest to turn them into crockpot meals. I could wake up knowing we had a sick day ahead of us, place the ingredients into the crockpot (defrosted OR straight from the freezer), add water, and a few hours later have a tasty soup!
I even gave myself a few options for customizing this soup in case it started to feel a little repetitive. It made a “chicken soup base” and gave myself notes to add either rice or noodles, though I might experiment next time with quinoa too.
The whole idea of setting and forgetting a soup on a sick day could not be more appealing to me. When I’d rather be resting than cooking, this is the ultimate gift to myself.
Perfect comfort food when you’re sick
I don’t know about you, but chicken soup is always the perfect comfort food when I’m sick. I have memories of coming home sick as a kid and eating canned Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, and while it was a nice memory, I can appreciate homemade soup much more now that I’m older.
I try to make homemade soup whenever I’m sick or anyone else in my household is. It feels like a big hug, and honestly, I love to warm my hands up by holding the bowl when I’m under the weather.
If you’re wanting to make your own chicken and rice soup, chicken noodle soup, or some freezer-friendly chicken soup bases, you’ll love this recipe.
To freeze for later, combine:
- 3 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
To finish the soup (finishing instructions):
- Add 6 cups of water, chicken broth, or a combination of both and cook in the crockpot for 6 to 8 hours on low
- Add one cup of rice in the last hour of cooking OR 1 ½ cups gluten-free noodles in the last 15 minutes of cooking
- In a freezer bag, combine cooked chicken, carrots, celery, onion, and all seasonings.
- Secure the freezer bag, write finishing instructions on the bag if you wish, then place in the freezer for later use.
- The day before you're ready to make the soup, take the freezer bag out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator to defrost. This is optional, you can cook this soup from frozen, but it goes a little quicker if it's defrosted.
- To make the soup, empty the contents from the freezer bag into a crockpot base. Add the water or chicken stock, cover and cook for 6 to 8 hours on low or 3 to 4 hours on high.
- If making chicken and rice soup, add 1 cup rice to the crockpot in the last hour of cooking.
- If making chicken noodle soup, add 1 ½ cups gluten-free noodles in the last hour of cooking.
- Once the noodles or rice are cooked through, transfer soup to bowls and serve.
- This soup can be enjoyed right away, and any leftovers can be refrigerated for another day.
Scale this recipe up to make freezer meals for sick days or meals when you don't have time to cook