There is a crisp chill in the air and that means it is the perfect weather for soup. I love soups. They are just great comfort foods that “warm the cockles of your heart”, as my dad always used to say. I think soups of all kinds are some of my favorite comfort foods too. Plus, if you have a lot of little bits of this and that, but not enough for a meal by themselves, you can ALWAYS throw them into a big pot of soup. Back in my restaurant management days, that’s exactly what we did too. Everything got tossed into either the soup pot or the chili pot. It was different all the time.
I made a creamy soup with wild rice, chicken and mushrooms that just hit the spot. I served it with the rest of my pumpkin egg bread Pumpkin Egg Bread and some white wine and we had a simple, yet delicious fall dinner.
I love rice, but I have to admit I don’t use a lot of wild rice, so this was a little different version of chicken and rice soup even for me. But I loved every bite.
Wild rice is actually a wild grass, rather than a rice. It is more like oats rather than more traditional rice found around the world. It is lumped into the rice family more because of its appearances rather than its actual genetic make up. Usually wild rice is cooked with wild game or duck, but more and more recipes are using wild rice too now to give a richer, nuttier taste and texture.
Until about 20 years ago, most wild rice grew naturally in the lakes and slow-moving streams of northern Minnesota and bordering Canada. The crop was harvested by Native Americans, who were members of the Ojibway Indian tribe. They processed it using traditional methods passed down from their ancestors. Today, most of it is now cultivated in commercial paddies.
Wild rice tastes like rice, which is why it’s called rice, even though it’s a completely different species. Like brown rice and other whole grains, wild rice has an outer shell (bran) that gives it a chewy texture. Wild rice has a slightly grassy flavor and a smokiness that comes from the way it’s processed.
There is a difference between wild rice and black rice too. Wild rice is grown in the United States and Canada, and as I said, it is actually a wild grass. Black rice hails from China and Asia. Black rice is sweetish to taste and has a nutty feel about its texture. Black rice is also called the “forbidden rice” because it was originally only for the wealthy and royalty due to its expense, though today, it is on the market for everyone to enjoy. It is also one of the oldest types of rice in the world too. Both the black and wild rice are chewy and nutty in texture. However, they are not so firm like the brown rice wherein it takes almost half an hour or so to cook. Other than wild rice is a wild grass and comes from North America and black rice is actually a rice and comes from China, there are not that many differences between the two grains, either nutritionally or in taste. They can also be interchangeable in recipes as well. Today, it is based on both personal preference and availability.
Chicken, Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup
2 lbs cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 lb mushrooms, sliced thick
1-2 TBSP garlic
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil and butter for cooking
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup flour
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup cooked wild or black rice
2 tsp fresh thyme
Get a large Dutch oven or pot hot and add the butter and olive oil. Add the mire poix, or the carrots, onions and celery and cook for about 5 minutes, or until they are softened.
Next, add the chicken, mushrooms and garlic and continue to cook for about 15 minutes.
Add the wine and deglaze the pan, followed by the chicken broth.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.
While the soup mixture is cooking, combine the cream and the flour and mix together well. Then add to the soup mixture and cook until the soup is slightly thickened.
Add the wild rice and incorporate into the soup thoroughly. Once again, bring to a full, rapid boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the thyme right at the finish and mix in thoroughly.
All that is left to do now is to spoon it up and enjoy. Delicious!
I am going to make a vegan gluten free version of this too for my students. I will omit the chicken and will substitute coconut milk for the heavy whipping cream, leave out the flour and will use vegetable broth in lieu of chicken broth. See simple easy-peasy changes, but the same basic recipe. Cooking vegan isn’t hard at all, like so many people think. It is usually just making simple adjustments.
Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.