March is supposed to roar in like a lion and go out like a lamb, but let's face it: a great many of us are still stuck dealing with ferocious temperatures. Instead of cursing Mother Nature, we should use the cold as a great excuse to keep whipping up hearty, delicious soups.

Crock-Pot Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup was inspired by a similar dish served up at Panera Bread -- got to love that. It is dead easy to make and cooks in either 7 to 8 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high heat. Just pop all of the ingredients -- most of which you'll probably have in your fridge or pantry -- into your slow cooker and head off to work or, even better, hightail it to the salon for a pedicure since sandal weather has to be right around the corner.

Here's how to make this perfect Crock-Pot soup.

Crock-Pot Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

1 (4.3-ounce) package Rice-a-Roni long grain and wild rice

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped celery

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup butter

2 cups half and half

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

In your slow cooker, combine chicken broth, water, package of Rice-a-Roni (including seasoning packet), carrots, celery, and basil. Stir to combine.

Add in uncooked chicken breasts.

Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high for 4.5 hours.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. When melted, whisk in flour. Slowly, very slowly pour in half and half until well combined. Stir in salt and black pepper.

Remove chicken breasts from the slow cooker and chop into chunks.

Pour the creamy mixture into the slow cooker and stir to combine. Add chicken chunks back in and cook for 15 minutes longer.

Makes about 10 cups of soup. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!