How Do I Add Rice to Soup (and Store It For Later?)

Good Questions

Q: I recently made a Mexican chicken soup that was very simple, and absolutely delicious. The recipe called for rice to be cooked in the stock. It was delightful, and I eagerly looked forward to days worth of leftovers as the weather got chillier.

One problem: The next day, the soup looked like Mexican Rice Pudding, not Mexican chicken soup. All the rice had swollen and absorbed 70% of the stock. It was still tasty, but nowhere near as nice or as appetizing.

Is there a way to cook rice in a soup without it doing this? I'm loath to cook it separately because the first bowl's rice has such a nice chicken-y flavor that I don't want to lose. Could I cook it in a cheesecloth satchel so I could pull it out when it's done cooking and let it cool outside of the soup? If I cooked it separately in some of the stock would it be okay to add it back in when everything is cool, or will the rice continue to absorb the stock overnight in the freezer?

Sent by Fiona

Editor: Fiona, this is a great question, and one that we have also wondered about! We have run into this problem with Greek lemon and rice soup; the rice swelled up so that the soup the next day was more like risotto!

We like your idea about cooking the rice in a cheesecloth bag. You could also parboil the rice (cook it for about 10 minutes in boiling water) and then add a cup at a time when you reheat the soup. Let the soup simmer for at least 20 minutes on the stove with the parboiled rice, and you should get that nice flavor but also have freshly-cooked rice.

Readers, how do you deal with this problem?

Related: Recipe: Hot and Sour Mushroom, Cabbage, and Rice Soup

(Image: Faith Durand)

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.

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