Chicken, Rice, and Vegetable Soup

This soothing soup recipe is from chef Amalia Moreno-Damgaard's cookbook, Amalia's Mesoamerican Table-Ancient Traditions with Gourmet Infusions.

Amalias Chicken Vegetable and Rice Soup
Photo: Todd Buchanan
Hands On Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 10 mins

"This is comfort food and a special tribute to my grandmother, Mélida. The soup has a special connection to her memory and my land. When I think of chicken soup, memories come to mind of her so-very-special chicken and rice soup. Hers had fresh-killed pollo criollo (patio chicken), which surpasses the flavor of any chicken I have had anywhere after I left Guatemala," Moreno-Damgaard shares. "This tasted so especially good; maybe it is my taste buds longing for her soup, but I know a good-tasting chicken when I taste one. The closest I have come to the flavor I crave is tree-range organic chicken (see note). My grandmother had the chickens in her patio for several weeks and fed them grain and clean water and allowed them to roam freely. She used to tell me and my siblings she wanted to 'clean them before we ate them, implying that their drinking water, diet, or environment may not have been the best before the chickens came to her home. Curiously, this was eons ago, and she was already conscious about clean food." To get the most out of this soup, serve it with avocado chunks, hot sauce, and warm freshly made corn tortillas.

This recipe is an excerpt from Amalia's Mesoamerican Table-Ancient Traditions with Gourmet Infusions.


  • 2 bone-in skinless chicken thighs, visible fat removed

  • 4 skinless chicken drumsticks, visible fat removed

  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and t-scored

  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced

  • 2 small, dried bay leaves

  • 1 ½ cups cups whole cilantro leaves and stems, plus more (chopped) for serving

  • 6 cups chicken stock, store-bought or homemade

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil

  • ¼ cup onion, finely chopped

  • ¾ cup Roma tomatoes, finely diced

  • Dash of ground cloves

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • ¼ cup long-grain white rice

  • ½ cup carrots, julienned

  • ½ cup red bell pepper, julienned

  • ½ cup chayote squash, julienned

  • ½ cup frozen baby peas

  • Avocado chunks, for serving


  1. In a soup pot, combine the chicken, onion, garlic, bay leaves, cilantro leaves and stems, and stock. Bring to a quick boil over high heat, then adjust the heat to medium low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, make the sofrito: Heat the oil in a medium skillet and add the chopped onion, tomatoes, cloves, salt, and black pepper to taste, and 1⁄2 cup hot stock from the soup pot. Cook until the sofrito has a chunky consistency, about 3 minutes. Mash the sofrito with a flat potato masher to bring it to a purée consistency.

  3. Remove the chicken from the soup pot and keep warm. Remove the onion, roughly chop it, and reserve. Remove the bay leaves and cilantro leaves and stems and discard. Shred the chicken using two forks. Return the chopped onion and shredded chicken to the soup pot. Add the sofrito and the rice and stir well. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

  4. Add the carrots, bell pepper, chayote squash, and peas. Stir well, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

  5. Serve the soup garnished with avocado chunks and cilantro with warm corn tortillas on the side.

This soup is chunky and substantial. If you like it less chunky or want to stretch it to feed more people, add more stock. Taste and add additional seasonings if needed.

As an option, use certified organic tree-range chickens (not to be confused with free-range chickens). They are raised outdoors under the canopy of trees and roam around, freely pecking on sprouted grain and a diversity of forages, including perennial medicinal herbs. The chickens are fed a balanced organic-certified feed. Tree-range chickens are better for the environment, farmers, people, and the planet, as they are raised under regenerative farming standards. On top of it all, they are leaner and taste delicious. They are available through local farmers and online.

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