Copycat Panera Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
This creamy, dairy-free copycat Panera Chicken and Wild Rice Soup is the healthier version of a classic favorite. An easy and delicious slow cooker meal the whole family will love! Gluten free and dairy free.
*This post was originally published on 1/10/21, and updated with new photos and copy on 1/25/22.
The BEST Panera Bread Soups
I have so many memories of going to Panera Bread with my friends throughout my teenage years and getting the “You Pick Two”. I would always get the Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup + half of a sandwich, or a salad, depending on the day.
Panera Bread soups have always been a cold-weather favorite of mine, and I am so excited about this easy, healthier, and dairy-free version!
Copycat Panera Bread Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
There is something so comforting about this soup – it’s basically like a big hug in a bowl. Re-creating a Panera Bread recipe is quite the feat, but this version couldn’t be easier to make! There is no sautéing involved – you literally just put everything into the slow cooker and go about your day!
The best part? It tastes exactly the same! As if Panera Bread made this very recipe! The result is a healthier version of the much-loved creamy Panera chicken and wild rice soup!
How to Make Dairy Free Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
You only need a few simple ingredients to make this. It makes a big enough batch for everyone to have a big, filling bowl, and then some!
- Chicken breasts – I used about 1.5 lbs of boneless, skinless, chicken breasts.
- Onion, Carrots, Celery- you can find this as a mix called mirepoix at Trader Joe’s and other grocers.
- Minced garlic
- Wild rice – I used this Lundberg Farms brand which is certified gluten-free.
- Chicken broth
- Bay leaf, Dried Rosemary, Dried Thyme, Dried Sage, Salt & Pepper
- Raw, unsalted cashews – I like to get these on Amazon or at Trader Joe’s.
Slow Cooker Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
I’ve included both slow cooker and Instant Pot directions in the printable recipe below. Both turn out great!
For the slow cooker, add in all of the ingredients except for the cashews and water. Stir to combine, then cook on high for 4-5 hours, or low for 8-10 hours.
Remove the chicken and shred it using two forks. Return the shredded chicken to the pot and make the cashew cream.
Instant Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
For the Instant Pot, add all ingredients (except cashew cream) into the Instant Pot. Stir well. Cook for 35 minutes on high pressure. Manually release the steam.
Remove the chicken and shred it using two forks, then add it back to the pot, and make the cashew cream.
How to Make Cashew Cream
I recommend soaking your cashews in boiling water before blending. You can pour water over them and let the bowl sit on the counter for the day while your soup cooks.
Make the cashew cream by combining the cashews and water. Blend on high for 1 minute or until the sauce is smooth and no chunks remain. Pour it into the slow cooker or Instant Pot and stir to combine. It will thicken upon standing. Enjoy!
Tips & Tricks
How to Serve Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup: Because this soup is packed with protein, veggies, and rice, it’s a complete meal all in one! I like to serve it warm in bowls with soup spoons. Feel free to serve your favorite gluten-free bread to dip in the soup, if desired!
How to Store Leftovers: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Scoop your portion into a bowl and microwave for 2-3 minutes.
Meal Prep: This is such a great meal prep meal. Make a big batch of soup, divide it into meal prep containers, and follow the reheating instructions above. Healthy lunch or dinner all week long!
Can you make this soup nut-free? Yes! You can sub 1 cup of full-fat coconut milk or original flavor Nutpods for just a cashew-free option (it does have nuts). If you want the soup to be a little thicker, you can stir in 1 tsp of arrowroot powder mixed with 1 tbsp of water. Stir for a few minutes and you’ll be good to go!
Is this chicken and wild rice soup gluten-free? Yes! This recipe is not only dairy-free, it’s also gluten-free, packed with protein, and super filling! It also tastes just like the original, but with healthier swaps!
Can I freeze this Panera Bread soup copycat? You can! Store in an airtight, freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in a pot over the stove.
More “Better than Panera Bread” Soups
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Copycat Panera Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
- ½ cup raw, unsalted cashews
- ¾ cup water
Nut free alternative
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk, or Original Nutpods creamer for just cashew free.
- Add the cashews to a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let them soak on the counter while the soup cooks.
Slow Cooker Instructions
- Place all ingredients (except for cashew cream) into the slow cooker. Stir. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-10 hours. Remove the chicken and shred it using two forks. Add it back into the slow cooker.
- Make the cashew cream: Blend the cashews and water together on high speed until it is very smooth and creamy. Pour the cream (or coconut milk or Nutpods) into the slow cooker. Stir. Serve topped with fresh parsley (if desired) and enjoy!
Instant Pot Instructions
- Add all ingredients (except cashew cream) into the instant pot. Stir well. Cook for 35 minutes on high pressure. Manually release the steam. Remove the chicken and shred it using two forks, then add it back to the pot.
- Make the cashew cream: Blend the cashews and water together on high speed until it is very smooth and creamy. Pour the cream (or coconut milk or Nutpods) into the Instant Pot. Stir. Serve topped with fresh parsley (if desired) and enjoy!