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Spanish Chicken and Rice Soup

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Spanish Chicken and Rice Soup is richly flavored with garlic, cilantro, tomatoes, and taco seasonings. Serve with warm bread for a hearty lunch or dinner.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
A serving of Spanish Chicken and Rice Soup in a white bowl.

Spanish Chicken and Rice Soup is richly flavored with garlic, cilantro, tomatoes, and taco seasonings. Pair it with buttery toasted rolls or cornbread for a hearty lunch or dinner.

I will readily admit to having guilty food pleasures. One in particular: Rice-a-Roni Spanish Rice mix. It’s just another one of those can’t-stop-eating-it things for me. And it’s the inspiration for this Spanish Chicken and Rice Soup.

A serving of Spanish Chicken and Rice Soup in a white bowl.

Trust me, I don’t buy that rice mix often. I wouldn’t dare keep it in my pantry because we’d eat it three times a week if I did. But every once in a while, I start craving those flavors – tender rice, tomatoes, and rich seasonings.

So, when that craving struck recently, I decided to try combining all that deliciousness in a soup and this recipe is the result. It’s a bit healthier – no preservatives and far less salt – but still has all the flavors I love in one pot.

💗 Why You’ll Love This Recipe


  • In my opinion, cold weather soups should be hearty and satisfying. This recipe is the very definition of satisfying.
  • Full of hearty flavors. It may not be traditional, but it tastes like your favorite Spanish, Tex-Mex, and southwestern meals.
  • Quick and easy. This soup is done in under an hour, which is perfect for busy days and tired nights.

🥘 About The Ingredients


  • Olive Oil, Butter, Garlic, Onion, Celery – So many great soups start with these aromatic ingredients, which provide a perfect flavor base to build upon.
  • Chicken Broth, Whole Peeled Tomatoes, and Cilantro These are the foundation of the Spanish-Mexican influence in the soup. If you can find canned, peeled plum tomatoes, they are ideal for this recipe. Be sure to use both the tomatoes and their juice.
  • Taco Seasoning, Salt, Black Pepper – This combination provides the familiar Spanish-influenced Mexican flavor in any dish.
  • White Rice, Cooked Diced Chicken – Gotta have chicken and rice for chicken and rice soup 😀.

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

🔪 How To Make Spanish Chicken and Rice Soup


Aromatic vegetables cooking in a saucepan.
  1. Place a deep saucepan or soup pot over medium to medium-high heat.
  2. Add the oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the onion and celery. Cook the mixture, frequently stirring, until the onion has wilted, taking care not to let it brown.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
Adding tomatoes to the soup pot.
  1. Add the tomatoes and cilantro. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes while stirring and breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon. (Or simply use a potato masher to make quick work of crushing the tomatoes!)
Adding rice, chicken, and stock to the soup pot.
  1. Add the rice, taco seasoning, and cilantro. Stir well.
  2. Add the chicken broth, chicken, salt, and pepper.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
  4. Cover the pot and cook for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, check to make sure the rice is done. If not, cook for an additional 4-5 minutes and check the rice again.
  5. Serve topped with additional cilantro.

Serve Your Soup with These Pretty Soup Bowl Cozies!

Soup Bowl Cozy Buddy Pot Holder Yellow and Gray Fleur-de-lis
Soup Bowl Cozy Buddy Pot Holder Yellow and Gray Fleur-de-lis

from: Etsy

🔀 Recipe Variations


  • Vary the herbs and seasonings. Parsley, rosemary, coriander, and bay leaves are all good choices.
  • Include additional garnishes and toppings. Diced avocado, grated Monterey Jack cheese, and sour cream make great additions to this soup.
  • Add more veggies. For spice, jalapenos, serranos, or chipotles in adobe will really heat things up! If you’re not looking for that touch of fire, then bell peppers, carrots, chickpeas, corn, and cabbage keep things nicely mild and satisfying.
  • A spritz of fresh lime juice is very nice. 

💡 Cook’s Tips


  • I make my own taco seasoning that I store in a tightly sealed jar in the pantry. I simply spoon out what I need whenever I need it. You can use purchased taco seasoning or simply chili powder with a touch of extra oregano and cumin.
  • Use yellow or white onions for the best flavor.
  • What’s the best chicken to use? Whatever you have on hand! I often use leftover rotisserie chicken for this recipe. You can even use well-drained canned chicken.

🍚 Storing Leftovers


Store leftovers in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container. You may also freeze this soup for up to 6 months. When ready to serve, allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat over low heat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

❓ Questions


Should I cook the rice before adding it to the soup?

There’s no need to cook the rice before adding it to the soup. It will cook along with the other ingredients and absorb lots of flavor.

Can I use brown rice?

Of course! You can substitute brown rice instead of the white rice called for in the recipe. Check the cooking times for the rice you use and adjust if needed.

Won’t the rice get mushy in the soup?

Certain kinds of rice can get mushy when overcooked. The best way to prevent the rice from becoming mushy is to remove the soup from the stovetop and serve it as soon as the rice is done. This isn’t a soup to keep on the stove for hours.

🧾 More Recipes You’ll Like


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📖 Recipe

A serving of Spanish Chicken and Rice Soup in a white bowl.

Spanish Chicken and Rice Soup

Spanish Chicken and Rice Soup is richly flavored with garlic, cilantro, tomatoes, and taco seasonings. Serve with warm bread for a hearty lunch or dinner.
5 from 2 votes
Print It Rate It Save
Course: Soups and Stews
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 370kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 ribs celery chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves minced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 14.5 ounces canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked diced chicken
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  • Place a deep saucepan or soup pot over medium high heat. Add the oil and butter.
  • When the butter has melted, add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring frequently until the onion has wilted. Take care not to brown the onion.
  • Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
  • Add the tomatoes and cilantro. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes while stirring and breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon.
  • Add the rice, taco seasoning, and cilantro. Stir well. Add the chicken broth, chicken, salt, and pepper.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 18-20 minutes or until the rice is done.
  • Serve topped with additional cilantro.

Notes

  • Store leftovers in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container. You may also freeze this soup for up to 6 months. When ready to serve, allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat over low heat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 370kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 3248mg | Potassium: 894mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 561IU | Vitamin C: 60mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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47 Comments

  1. I too LOVE Rice-a-Roni, Spanish Rice and Lays BBQ chips (really, it doesn’t get better than Lays BBQ!). Your soup sounds wonderful, and I also anxiously await your taco seasoning mix post. I’ve been looking for a good one! Visiting as a new member of your SITS tribe!

    1. Reading your comment, Scarlett, is making me crave some Lays BBQ chips. I may just have to make a quick trip to the grocery store :-)

  2. I know what you mean about those guilty pleasure foods. They’re so wrong and just so right. I love the parmesan flavored pasta roni. I eat the whole box by myself. That’s why I follow Nigella’s philosophy of being unapologetic about the foods you love. All things in joyful moderation. I’m excited to be part of your tribe and see more of your creations.

    1. Although we do try to eat moderately most of the time, I make no apologies at all for an occasional indulgence. It’s good for the soul!

      1. This soup is delicious! The only changes I made were to leave out the cilantro (aka, the devil’s herb LOL), and cook the rice separately so I could measure it out into my bowl and know how much insulin to cover the carbs. I also used can of stewed tomatoes because it’s what I had! Thanks for another wonderful recipe.

  3. Hi Lana,
    Your soup looks fantastic!! I have loved soups this winter and now want to give this one a try. :)
    Look forward to getting to know you this week!
    Deanna, from your SITs tribe.

    1. Hi Sarah. Thanks for stopping by the blog and for commenting. Yes, this is an easy soup and it’s great for cold winter days. I hope you’ll try it!

  4. I love Rice-a-Roni, too! I always wanted to eat the whole pan growing up instead of sharing with my brothers. :) This sounds like a great compromise! I’m Nicole and I blog at 365(ish) Days of Pinterest. We are in the same SITS tribe together. I look forward to getting to know you better this week.

  5. I was just curious. Why use whole tomatoes and break them up? Is it a flavor or texture thing? or is it what you had on hand? thought maybe diced would be easier…again…just curious. And I will be making this…looks delish!

    1. Hi Dawn, great question. For me it’s both taste and texture. I just prefer the canned whole peeled plum tomatoes. They have a better taste and the texture is definitely softer than the diced tomatoes. You can certainly use the diced if you want to but I think they need to cook longer. They’re a firmer texture.

  6. Guilty pleasures….. there are so many. Here’s a few, the things that I never pass up if available:
    fried okra
    banana pudding
    real whipped cream
    chicken and dumplings
    anything with cheese, except macaroni and cheese (don’t like it)
    lemon cheese cake (which all Southerners know has nothing to do with cheese)
    bacon
    fresh out of the garden tomatoes
    Aunt Virginia’s german chocolate cake
    Sorry, tired of typing and now I’m hungry!

    Miss P

    1. Every single one of that list are some of my favorites, too. I’d love to have some good fresh fried okra and lovely ripe tomatoes right now!

  7. When i was a young, very broke mom I would stretch a pound of hamburger into dinner for my kiddos with Spanish Rice mix – it was one of their favorites. I’ll have to mske this for them sometime when they are up here for old times sake – they would love it!

    1. I’ve done that, too – the hamburger with the rice mix. It’s really good, isn’t it? I hope that if you cook the soup for your kids, they’ll enjoy it and remember that recipe you used to make for them :-)

    2. My parents had 12 kiddos (late 1950- mid 1970s), and Spanish rice, spaghetti/macaroni, and boiled potatoes were all used to stretch ground beef to feed a crowd! They were on regular rotation.

      Unfortunately they served all with veggies & fruit from a can. I didn’t learn to appreciate vegetables/fruit until I was in my mid 40’s when I prepared both from their natural state. Adding more veggies to Spanish rice (and soup/stew) makes it a healthful balanced meal, e.g., fresh instead of canned tomatoes, diced zucchini, fresh corn cut off cob, diced red/green/yellow peppers, carrots, celery and topping with green onions and more cilantro when serving.

      1. Thus, my guilty pleasure is vegetables. I am in the “spring roll” guilty pleasure camp.

  8. This looks really good and I am looking forward to making it! I have many guilty pleasure foods, so it’s hard to narrow it down. Some of my favorites are garlic bread made with real butter, homemade macaroni and cheese and a cheeseburger and french fries from one of my favorite local restaurants.

    1. I do have a recipe, Sue! So many people have commented and emailed me today asking for it that I’m planning to post it next Tuesday. Watch for it then!

  9. My favorite guilty pleasure is Buffalo chicken pizza rolls currently. The chicken soup looks very good. It is a great recipe for winter.

    1. Anything ‘buffalo chicken’ is a winner in my book. I haven’t had the buffalo chicken pizza rolls, but they sound delish. And guilty :-)

  10. This looks sooo yummy. I’ll be making it this weekend.

    Guilty pleasures – traditional eggs benny is one of mine.

  11. Hi Lana!!

    Ooooh…. just added this to my list of “soups I want to make when it gets cold”… which, if this trend continues may never happen – but I’m going to make the soup anyway !!! (88 degrees here yesterday!!) I LOVE all these flavors so there is no question I’d love this soup!!!

    1. Oh how I wish it was 88 degrees here, Nancy! Though it is substantially warmer than the 6 degrees we had a couple of weeks ago :-) Hope you enjoy the soup and it’s good to see you back online again.

  12. Yummo! This sounds delicious – can’t wait to try it. And I would also love it if you’d post your taco seasoning recipe – I’m not a big fan of the store-bought version; too much cumin for my taste. I have my own version of “taco seasoning” but always like to see what others are doing. Thanks for this recipe!

    1. Hi Peg,

      I’ve had a couple of people ask for the seasoning recipe so I’ll go ahead and post that soon! Watch for it in the next couple of weeks.

  13. Hi Lana,

    I love your recipes. I have tried quite a few and I am going to try this one, as I love anything Spanish tasting.
    I was wondering if you could tell me how many servings this recipe makes.

    Thanks