This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
Creamy Ham and Wild Rice Soup combines smoky cooked ham, wild rice, and a variety of vegetables in a creamy, cheesy broth. Make it with ham leftovers or a cooked smoked shoulder.
Delicious and comforting…the perfect soup for a winter’s day.
Our Creamy Ham and Wild Rice Soup is an extremely flavorful soup with deep, rich, flavors.
It starts with bite-sized pieces cooked ham – either leftovers from your holiday ham, an already-cooked ham steak, or a cooked smoked shoulder. You’ll combine that with an earthy mix of carrots, onions, celery and garlic, plus some cooked rice (we used a wild rice blend for both flavor, color and texture).
These ingredients are combined with a flavorful, cheesy broth that makes this soup creamy, delicious, and very satisfying.
Every spoonful of our Creamy Ham and Wild Rice Soup has an earthy, smoky taste with natural sweetness from the chunks of carrots. You’re going to love this soup.
Why you’ll love Creamy Ham and Wild Rice Soup
- It’s so hearty and filling – perfect for a winter meal. Or, pour it into a thermos and bring this luscious hot soup to the ski slopes or skating rink for a lunch on the go.
- This soup is a perfect way to enjoy a second meal from the leftovers of a ham dinner. But you can also make it with smoked shoulder or other cooked ham.
- Our recipe today makes a large pot of soup – so you can feed a hungry crowd, or enjoy leftovers without having to cook again for a day or two.
Did you know?
Wild rice isn’t really a “rice” – it’s an ancient seed from an aquatic grass.
It is believed that Native Americans found it thousands of years ago, growing in the shallow, fresh waters of the Great Lakes.
Key Ingredients & Substitutions
- Leftover ham – If you don’t have any leftover ham from the holidays, buy a ham steak and cut that up. (A hickory-smoked ham would be ideal as it would lend a nice smoky flavor to the soup.) You can also add leftover smoked shoulder if you have that on hand.
- Rice – A hearty rice is best for this soup. We chose this wild rice blend (note the cooking time of about 45 minutes) – a combination of brown rice with wild rice – and it adds both taste, texture and visual interest to the soup. Just avoid using precooked or heat-and-serve rice blends – they will get too soft in this soup.
- Vegetables – You’ll cook up a typical mirepoix of carrots, onions, celery, and garlic.
- Stock or broth – We made this soup with our homemade Ham Stock, but vegetable broth or a low sodium chicken stock are also great alternatives for the base of this soup. Whichever you choose will impact the flavor of the soup slightly – but all are delicious in the end.
- Dairy – This recipe calls for unsalted butter, half & half, sharp white cheddar cheese, plus sliced white American cheese. The American cheese melts easily into the soup, creating a creamy taste and texture that isn’t overly thick.
- Seasonings – Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, bay leaves, and dried thyme are used to season this soup.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- All-Purpose Flour – Used to thicken the soup a bit. Corn starch can also be used.
Special Tools Needed
- Cutting Board and Sharp Knife
- Medium Pot with Lid
- Dutch Oven or Large Soup Pot
- Small Saucepan
How do I make Creamy Ham and Wild Rice Soup?
- Sauté rice and oil in a pot, then add carrots, onion, celery, garlic and spices.
- Add stock, cover, and simmer until rice is tender.
- Make cheese sauce in a separate pot while the recipe cooks. Stir in the cooked ham.
- Add rice and stock mixture to ham and cheese sauce mixture. Whisk to combine.
- Serve and enjoy.
Tips & Tricks
This recipe comes together quickly so all ingredients should be cut, chopped, and measured before beginning. Read Cook Like a Pro with Mise en Place.
This soup can easily be cut in half for fewer portions.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I make Creamy Ham and Wild Rice Soup ahead of time? Yes, but keep in mind that the rice will absorb a lot of the liquid as it sits and as it reheats. Since the soup comes together quickly once you are ready to, the best option is to prepare all ingredients ahead of time. Then, cook according to the instructions about an hour before serving.
- How do I store leftovers? Store covered in the refrigerator for up to three days.
- How do I reheat leftovers? Reheat in a saucepan or microwave. Add more stock or cream to thin the soup if needed.
- Can I freeze? This will not freeze well – any soup with cream and cheeses will separate once frozen and thawed.
- Can I put uncooked rice directly into the soup? Not for this recipe.
- Should you rinse rice before adding to soup? Typically, we’d say yes (to remove excess starches) but in this recipe, we sauté the rice in oil before cooking (similar to a risotto) and that step should be done with dry rice. The remaining starch is fine to add to a creamy soup like this.
Click here for more delicious Soup Recipes!
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound uncooked wild rice blend (we used this Lundberg brand variety)
2 1/2 cup carrots, diced (about 3–4 medium carrots)
2 cups yellow onion, diced (about 2 small to medium onions, or one large)
1 cup celery, diced (about 2–3 stalks)
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dry thyme
2 bay leaves
2 quarts ham or vegetable stock
3 cups half & half cream (or light cream if available)
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces white American cheese, cubed
3–4 cups cubed leftover ham (about 1–1 1/4 pounds)
- In a medium soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat and add the dry rice and saute for three minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon.
- Add the carrots, onion and celery and cook for three more minutes.
- Add garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaves and cook for two more minutes.
- Add stock, bring to a boil, lower heat to lowest heat and cover. Depending on the brand of rice, the time to cook the rice until tender should be about 45 minutes. (We used Lundberg Wild Blend and it took exactly 45 minutes)
- While the rice is cooking, heat cream in a small sauce pan, but do not boil. Just get the cream hot and remove from the heat.
- In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed soup pot, melt butter over medium heat.
- Once melted add, flour and stir and cook for three minutes.
- Whisk in the hot cream in three batches. The first addition will whisk up thick, the next will thin it down a bit and the last will yield a creamy sauce. Adding it like this in three batches will eliminate lumping.
- Stir in cheddar and American cheeses and whisk until the cheese sauce is creamy smooth.
- Stir in the cooked ham and remove from the heat.
- Once the rice mixture in the first pot is tender, ladle it into the cream and ham pot one ladle at a time, stirring after each addition.
- Heat finished soup to serving temperature and serve in bowls.
Last Step! Please leave a review and rating letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business thrive & continue providing free recipes.
This recipe can easily be cut in half for fewer servings. Simply cut each ingredient in half.