Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole (with no cream soups!)

I am a canned Cream of Fill in the Blank Soup rebel.  I have avoided canned cream soups since we began Our Healthy Eating Journey.  Why?  Because their ingredient lists scare me.  (As in, I literally scream out loud, from deep in the back of my throat, when I pick up a can and read it at the store.  Not really. But I wonder what my boys would do if I did?  Maybe I’ll do that sometime.  Not really.)

The ingredients in a can of Campbell’s Cream of Celery Soup, according to the Campbell’s Food Service Website are (and do try not to scream when you read this):

Water, Celery, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Cottonseed, Canola, and/or Soybean), Wheat Flour, Modified Food Starch, Contains less than 2% of: Salt, Soy Protein Concentrate, Monosodium Glutamate, Cream Powder (Cream [Milk], Soy Lecithin), Yeast Extract, Flavoring, Beta Carotene for Color.

Well, at least the first two ingredients are water and celery.  ;)

There are all kinds of recipes which share how to make homemade cream soups.  I’ve tried some of them, and I’m thankful that the recipes are available.  For some reason though, I just haven’t had a loving enough relationship with cream soup to try to keep the homemade varieties on hand.

The question is then, how do you make a casserole without a cream soup?  Ah, very simple:  I use cream.

Cream of what?  No, just cream.  Cream. The stuff that rises to the top of your raw milk.  Or the thick, white liquid you can buy in the dairy department of the store, usually labeled Heavy Whipping Cream.  If you use cream, along with a few spices that enhance your casserole, your dish will be tasty, easy and surprise, surprise:  creamy.

Here is how I now make my Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole with real, whole food ingredients:

Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole

4 cups chicken broth (I avoid canned broth or bouillon because they are also loaded with MSG.  Here’s my easy homemade chicken broth recipe, which includes frighteningly ugly pictures of a chicken carcass.  Again, try not to scream.)
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups brown rice
2-3 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 teaspoon (or more) garlic powder
Sea salt, to taste
1 1/2 cups cream (heavy whipping cream, or fresh cream which has risen to the top of whole, raw milk)

In a large pot, bring chicken broth, carrots and onion to a boil at high heat.  Add rice, stir, and place the lid on the pot.  Reduce heat to low and cook the rice and vegetables in the broth for 45 minutes.  (To avoid sticky rice, don’t stir the rice while it’s trying to cook – just walk away and ignore it for the entire 45 minutes.  You can do it.)

When the rice is done, stir in cooked chicken, garlic powder and cream.  Shake in liberal amounts of sea salt for best flavor.  (I use Redmonds Real Sea Salt, which is unbleached and full of natural minerals.)  Cook ingredients for about five more minutes to heat the chicken and cream.  Serve directly from pot, or pour into a 9×13 inch baking dish.  This meal can be prepared ahead of time, refrigerated and reheated in the oven at serving time.  Cover and heat in a 350° oven for 20-30 minutes or until hot through and through.  Serves eight.

(You can also freeze this meal.  To reheat, simply put the frozen, covered casserole into the oven, turn the oven onto 350° and cook for about 1 1/2 hours or until it is heated thoroughly.)

Creamy Chicken and Rice

Cooking your rice in the chicken broth gives this dish a wonderful, naturally delicious flavor.  And in case I didn’t mention it before, the cream makes this dish…creamy.

Where have you landed on the Cream of Fill in the Blank issue?  Have you given them up yet?  Have you ever screamed out loud when reading the ingredient list on a can of soup at the store? Do you make your own cream soups?  Or do you use another substitution? (Sour cream works well too, in some recipes!)

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Comments

  1. Cassie L. says

    Hi Laura! Thank you for the suggestion of using cream. I have been wanting to give up the “cream ofs”…but NOT wanting to give up my comfort-food casserole recipes. Since I’m not a very intuitive cook, I need to know how much cream you would use to take the place of 1 can of condensed Campbell’s cream soup in any recipe. Advice greatly appreciated! (I’ll probably make your chicken & rice casserole this weekend.)

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  2. Laura says

    I just made this tonight and it was delicious. Thank you so much for sharing. It was SO much tastier (and healthier) than the cream-of-whatever casseroles that were ubiquitous when I was growing up! I added a teaspoon of poultry seasoning herbs and was glad for it. It was a big hit with my husband and toddler too!

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  3. Cara says

    The whole family LOVED this! Even my picky 7 yr old!! We don’t do “cream of” anything. They are not allowed in my pantry. I was quite disappointed when I was pulling all the ingredients and realized I was completely out of carrots. However, I was fully stocked with corn. It was delish! My husband said if we used carrots and corn it would almost be like a pot pie in a…pot!! :) I think we will give that a whirl next time!

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  4. Gretchen says

    I used mixed veggies and doubled them and then sprinkled a little cheddar cheese on top, turned out great! Great recipe to make to give to a family that just had a baby or surgery or whatever.

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  5. judy jones says

    I have been looking for alternatives for canned soups in cooking. My husband cannot have sodium, and the soups are loaded! Thanks for the advice on the cream! Any salt free cooking ideas out there, please forward. I am open for any suggestions.
    Thanks
    Judy

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  6. Elizabeth says

    I was looking for a rice casserole recipe. The first one I pulled up was from a popular women’s magazine, and though it didn’t have a “can of creamed” it did call for margarine (!) and white rice and one cup of stock. So I put on 4 cups of fresh broth and pulled out my organic brown rice, and thought maybe I should find a few more recipes. And here you are! I tossed some carrot and onion into my pot and just now added the cream from the top of my raw milk I got from the farmer today. I cut up the rest of the roasted chicken and have the yummiest dinner! I may add some peas for color but this will be a staple. Thank you!!!

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  7. Mandy says

    I’ve made this recipe several times because it’s simple and healthy and omits the cream-of **** soups, but my husband always had a slight complaint about the flavor. (although he always devoured it anyway) go figure! It makes perfect sense to sub cream for the soup and I had never thought of it before BUT you got me thinking…what about sour cream. I thought the cream made it taste a little sweet, which I thought took away from the flavor and made me add more salt. I tried subbing sour cream (and I’ve also added peas) It is perfect. That slight sweetness that was in the back of our minds is gone and the flavor is….well…beautiful:)

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  8. says

    Oh. My. Gosh. I had no idea how tasty Creamy Chicken and Rice could be without the soup! This is a keeper in my recipe book – the whole fam LOVES it!!! Thanks a million!

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  9. DayZee says

    Amazing!! We also added frozen peas, broccoli and some bell peppers to clean out my freezer, I like lots of veggies. Ended up using a quart of broth, some black pepper to taste too, used half and half (bc all they had at trader joes that was organic), popped in over w some cheese on top…. This is a keeper in our cook book!

    I love that u do NOT use canned ingredients, as we eat as much organic as possible. I’m defiantly going to read your site, so glad I came across it!

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  10. Brandi says

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was so good. I didn’t have any garlic powder left, so I used 2TB of your onion soup mix instead. Even my picky 2 year old ate it. :)

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  11. tina says

    Thank you so much for the suggestion. I have cut all wheat out of my diet and therefore can not use any creamed soups so this is a great substitue!

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  12. christine says

    do i have to whip the cream before hand or just pour in the called amount?

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    Laura Reply:

    No need to whip – just pour it in. :)

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  13. Tonetta says

    We absolutely loved this dish. It was so simple and quick to fix. I always go by what my husband says for the most part and he thought is was really good. Thank you so much for all that you do. I love your website. You have become my go to for good, wholesome, healthy, and REAL food. With all the information that is out there you make it simple and I love it.

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  14. Cindy says

    We probably won’t get an answer in time for dinner tonight, but thought I’d try… My family likes a mix of white & brown rice – we’ve not converted to all brown rice yet, maybe never will… And anyway – does it need to cook for 45 min if it is half-n-half rices?

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    Laura Reply:

    I would give it the 45 minutes so that your brown rice isn’t underdone. :)

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  15. says

    Hi Laura,
    I think I’ve commented on this post before saying how much my husband and daughter and I LOVE this recipe. (my son is too picky to try it, unfortunately.) Just wanted to let you know that I made this recipe this weekend using ham stock and chopped ham that I had in the freezer leftover from Easter. I also added some celery to the carrot and onion mixture. AMAZING!!! A must-try for anyone who likes this recipe. I didn’t add any extra salt because of the salt in the ham and stock and it was perfect. My husband said it was one of the best things I ever made!
    Thanks again for the great recipes and inspirational site!!

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  16. Stef says

    I’m so glad I found this recipe. I’ve been trying to find more home made recipes that don’t require any processed foods, as many of them contain soy of some sort. I am currently nursing my 4 month old son, who has a soy sensitivity, so in order to keep him happy and healthy, I’ve stopped consuming soy altogether. It’s been a rough road, but pages such as this make it so much easier. Thank you for posting. :-D

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  17. kj says

    this was awesome! like others, i added some seasoning (parsley/sage/rosemary/thyme/white pepper), and cheddar cheese on top. it was very yummy! thanks :)

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  18. Teresa Yb. says

    I just made this again, this time to share with another family with a new baby. I added some fresh broccoli to the pot when there was about 5 minutes left on the timer. I didn’t stir it in- I just let it steam on top of the rice. I left some of the casserole without cream because I can’t have dairy, and it was still good.
    I told my husband that I need to make this more often. Everyone likes it, and it is easy and healthy.

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  19. Jenni says

    I’m planning on trying this recipe this week sometime, but was wondering how to modify it for the rice I have. I have an organic basmati rice that cooks up in 15 minutes. Is that long enough to cook the broth, carrots, and onion as well, or should I start those first, and add the rice after they have been cooking for a while? Thanks for all your wonderful recipes!

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    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    This might be a bit late of a response, but I would think you can adjust the cooking times and it will turn out just fine.

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  20. says

    I can’t wait to try more of your recipes. I just loathe canned soups. I like real ingredients and I don’t like short cuts. You’d just old fashioned doing it right. It’s also a great way for young cooks to learn how to eat well without wasting good ingredients. It’s truly a lesson in value

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  21. Dawn Harding says

    Looks delish! Could I substitute almond milk for the heavy cream?

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    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    You sure can!

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  22. alicia says

    Laura. I love this recipe and have used it several times. In a pinch, last week, I bought an Amy’s Own cream of mushroom canned soup (gasp!) in the “natural food” aisle of our grocery store. I scanned the ingredients quickly and they seemed at least LESS aversive than the red and white can. At least no recognizable names for MSG. (: Made a chicken casserole with it and it was really, really good. Just thought is throw that out there…big business is listening that consumers will purchase improved-upon-process-foods. (: Anyhow, I’d much prefer this recipe, but some days require cans. That is all.

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  23. Chrissie says

    Hi Laura,
    I have this on the stove-top right now. I can’t wait to eat! I don’t have much raw milk left but will be using sourcream for the cream. Its not organic but sometimes you gotta use what you have. We are moving later this month, so I am hoping that we (a family of 4) won’t eat all of this tonight and I can freeze some for the week we move or right after we move and I don’t feel like cooking dinner after a long day of unpacking. It smells amazing!

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  24. Mandy says

    I am not a big commenter in general but I feel compelled to comment here. I made this last night (and added broccoli) and my goodness was it delicious! I am very excited to find this resource and look forward to working my way through your recipes. Thanks for sharing all of your hard work! :)

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  25. Dana says

    Wow, this is delicious! If I cut the recipe in half, would I still cook it for 45 minutes? It makes a lot!

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    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    I would do less time. If you wanted to make the recipe as is I would freeze the extra and have a freezer meal on hand for either yourself or another family! It’s great to have meals to run over to a mom with a new baby!

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  26. Brandi says

    I just made this for the first time tonight. I’ve looked at the recipe curiously for about a year now and still hesitated even though I knew cream made meals tasty, but I didn’t want to be disappointed because when I think chicken and rice, I think of my momma’s chicken and rice when I was growing up. Well, like I said, I made it tonight with a couple of tweaks suggests by a couple commenters and OH MY Goodness! It’s like Heaven in a Pot!!! I had a rough afternoon with my 2 sons and I’m pregnant with my third child…this meal seriously made my day! My family liked it too! It reminded me so much of my mom’s (w/the canned soup), but I have to say that I liked more than my mom’s! And, knowing that all the ingredients are wholesome and real topped everything off!!! Thank you!! :)

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  27. Sarah says

    We have an allergy to cows milk in our home–has anyone made this with a dairy substitute like almond milk? I’m a little skeptical, since it’s a bit thinner than cream. I don’t want a pot of chicken and rice cream soup! Thanks!

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  28. Betty Stewart says

    I sometimes use a medium white sauce using celery or mushrooms sautéed in the butter for whichever Campbell’s soup I want to replace. Then add the flour and cook for a couple of minutes and add the milk, salt and pepper and simmer until the right thickness. You can add cheese as well.

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