As soon as the cooler weather hits, I immediately begin craving warm, comforting soups. When I was a kid, my great grandmother, Irene, made two soups (which were on weekly repeat!) all fall and winter long. The first was her unbelievably delicious chicken soup, to which she added tiny meatballs and orzo pasta, which is a short pasta that resembles rice. The second was what I referred to as ‘the red soup,’ which was a savory beef soup with a red hue, hence the name. My mom made these soups for us as we got older and my great grandmother passed away, and now I make the chicken soup for my family very often. To keep it gluten free and safe for me to enjoy, too, I use rice instead of orzo pasta and I make the meatballs using gluten free panko breadcrumbs.
This chicken soup is a filling dish, making it the perfect weeknight meal. If you have the time over the weekend, make a big batch of it and store it in the fridge in containers to enjoy for lunch or dinner all week long. The recipe makes a pretty good amount of soup, so even a big family can stretch it for a day or two. Since this soup is loaded with chicken, meatballs, rice and carrots, I serve it as a main course, often with crusty garlic bread and a green salad. But feel free to serve it in smaller bowls as a first course, too! It also makes the perfect soup for a winter holiday gathering!
Chicken Rice Soup with Gluten Free Veal Meatballs
- 4 chicken leg quarters, skin on but the extra fat removed
- 1 large onion, skin removed by left whole
- Water to cover chicken
- 32-ounce container Kitchen Basics gluten free, unsalted chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 large carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Veal Meatballs:
- About 1 - 1 1/4 lbs ground veal
- 1/2 cup gluten free panko (I like Aleia's brand)
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- Salt to taste
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- Chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/2 cup pecorino romano
- Step 1 In a large stock pot, place the chicken in the bottom and cover with cold water. You want to more than cover the chicken by about 2 inches. Drop in the onion and cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a rolling simmer. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and the onion is soft, about 45 minutes.
- Step 2 In the meantime, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl to make the meatballs. Using clean hands, form the meat into small balls, about one inch. Set aside.
- Step 3 When the chicken is cooked through, carefully remove the pieces and place in a large bowl or dish to cool. You want the chicken to be cool enough to handle, as you’ll be cleaning it up and shredding it into the broth. Remove the onion, too, and discard.
- Step 4 While the chicken is cooling, using a fine mesh sieve, skim any chicken fat or fragments of bone/skin out of the pot and discard. The cleaner the chicken is going into the pot, the cleaner the broth will be later!
- Step 5 Chop the carrots and add them to the pot with the bay leaf. Add salt and pepper. Cover and bring back to a boil. When boiling, add in the meatballs. Cover and simmer to cook the meatballs and carrots through.
- Step 6 While the meatballs are cooking, begin removing the skin from the chicken pieces. Shred or cut the chicken into easily manageable pieces (you want them to fit on your soup spoon!). Add the chicken back to the pot and give it all a big stir to combine.
- Step 7 Season again with salt and pepper, if needed.
- Step 8 If adding rice, cook the rice according to the package. I like to rinse my cooked rice over the sink under cold water before adding it to the soup. This removes the extra starch from the rice and keeps the broth clear.
- Step 9 If you’re not gluten free, feel free to add a small pasta, like orzo or ditalini.
- Step 10 Serve with a good sprinkling of grated pecorino Romano cheese!
- I make this recipe in an 8-quart stainless steel stock pot.
- You can certainly use split chicken breasts if you prefer white meat, however, I find the dark meat to add more flavor to the broth.
- If your family doesn’t like veal, you can substitute ground beef for the meatballs. Sometimes I even use the meatloaf mix, which is ground beef, pork and veal.
- I discard the onion because my kids don’t like it, but you can shred it once it’s cooked and add it to the soup with the shredded chicken if you prefer it. Add as much or as little of it as your family likes.
- This soup can also be frozen to enjoy at a later date. Be sure to sue freezer-safe containers.