In a large heavy sauce pan heat the oil over a medium heat.
Add the shallots, carrots, celery and garlic.
Sweat the vegetables off for a few minutes until they are soft and the shallots are translucent.
Add the chicken, rice, bay leaves, 2 sprigs of thyme leaves and the chicken broth.
Bring to broth to the boil and reduce to a simmer.
Cook covered for about 20-25 minutes until the rice is cooked.
Add the milk and bring to the boil again.
Mix the cornflour with the water and add to the soup pot.
Bring to the boil for a minute.
Save the last sprig of thyme to garnish the soup bowls.
Serve with warm crusty bread and a large salad.
Makes 2 litres about 8 portions.