Cold weather and lots of rain mean two things in the UK: soup-making and mushroom season. Although no ingredients has been foraged from the local forest, a bowl of this chicken and mushroom soup with bulgur is the perfect warm-up after a wet walk on a windy day. Sink into this homemade soup of tender, shredded chicken breast simmered in steamy stock with earthy mushrooms and bulgur grains. It will keep the cold out and the wolf from the door.
The humble mushroom can be a divisive ingredient, so if you prefer your soup without, try this creamy chicken wild rice soup. Every ounce as satisfying – and with cream!
Chicken and mushroom soup
There are few more classic partnerships than chicken and mushroom. And it’s one of my absolute favourites!
For me, it’s part nostalgia, thanks to the forested lands of my childhood, where mushrooms grew in abundance, and chicken being an affordable and accessible meat. And, obviously, the deliciously complimentary flavours and textures of the pair.
For this homemade chicken soup, I’ve kept it simple to showcase the chicken and mushroom. I wanted the nuttiness of the porcini mushrooms and the sweetness of the chicken breast to really stand out, so I’ve held back on other flavours.
To make it more satisfying and filling I added bulgur wheat, which is a small grain similar in texture to couscous. The result is a wintry, woodsy one-bowl-meal worthy of Red Riding Hood.
Being a wheat grain, bulgur contains gluten, so if you want a gluten-free version, use can easily substitute with rice instead.
Recipe tips and notes
- Dried mushrooms are unparalleled in homemade soupmaking. They tend to be either shiitake or porcini, which are naturally more flavoursome than fresh button or white mushrooms.
- If dried mushrooms aren’t available to you, you can use fresh – I would choose chestnut mushrooms. This means you will need to use an extra 1 cup/250ml of chicken stock in place of the reserved mushroom liquor from the dried mushrooms.
- I’ve used chicken breasts today, but thighs and legs can be used if you prefer them. They will give even more flavour to the soup – just make sure you remove any bones at the final stage.
- The nutty flavour of bulgur compliments the mushrooms in this soup beautifully. I also like the fine texture. If you’re not keen on bulgur, substitute with white rice or wild rice for more of a bite.
- Fresh and frondy dill adds a vibrant boost to this cold weather soup, but I know it’s not to everyone’s tastes. Parsley will offer the same liveliness but without the anise-y flavour.
Although it’s a hearty meal in itself thanks to the bulgur, I can’t really serve soup without bread at least! Try making my simple no-knead farmhouse for a classic white fluffy-centred loaf, or sourdough for a chewier hunk.
Storage and leftovers
Leftovers on the day can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for 3-4 days before being reheated.
I’m a great believer in freezing soups. This one is ideal being a broth-based (not dairy-based) soup. All the components will happily freeze for 3-4 months and thaw without damage to their texture. Take the homemade soup from the freezer a day before you want it and thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating gently on a stovetop.
More soups to try
- Borscht Recipe (Iconic Soup Made Easy!)
- Beef Cabbage Soup
- Pelmeni Dumpling Soup
- Lentil and Bacon Soup
Chicken Mushroom Soup with Bulgar
- 20g / ½ cup dried mushrooms such as porcini dehydrated in 250ml / 1 cup of boiling water for 30 minutes or 100g / 3.5 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
- 1 tbsp butter or olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 celery
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 chicken breasts
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 tsp soup seasoning powder or all purpose seasoning such as Knorr, Mrs Dash or your favourite
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper
- 180g / 1 cup bulgur or rice
- 1-2 tbsp fresh chopped dill
- Rehydrate the dried mushrooms by pouring 250ml/1 cup of boiling water over them and let them sit for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile melt the butter in a soup pot and add the diced onions, sliced carrots and celery and sauté for 10 minutes over low heat. Then add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds longer.
- While the vegetables are cooking, drain the mushrooms while reserving the water. Chop up the mushrooms.
- Top the vegetables with two chicken breasts, chopped rehydrated mushrooms and pour the reserved mushrooms stock and chicken stock over them, add in the soup seasoning, the bay leaves with a pinch of salt and pepper, bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
- Add the bulgur or rice and continue cooking for 10 minutes, then remove the chicken breasts from the soup and shred them with two forks, return to the pot. Taste and add more salt if needed, sprinkle with the fresh dill and serve.