Wild Rice Soup

Dear Reader,

I staged another upo squash battle, so stay tuned for another installment of the upo trials soon. But for now…

Here’s a first for the blog: a recipe trial based off a magnet! Specifically this one, which I bought from my home state long ago and always meant to use. With Autumn in full swing, the slight chill in the Pacific Northwest air puts me in mind of the Midwest Fall, with its brilliant, last-ditch burst of colors before the real cold sets in. With that, comes the impulse to make hot mulled cider (which I brought to spectate a Spartan Race the other weekend), and making tons of soup.

Nothing quite like a fridge magnet to remind you of your roots.

You will note there are some vague parts in this recipe, like, you can use 10 slices of bacon, OR and indeterminate amount of chicken. I guess the Midwestern author figured you would default to bacon, in keeping with old meat-and-potato biased traditions. How much celery? Why, perhaps as little as you can get by with? How much does it make? A s____ ton, enough to feed your neighbors and keep some for lunch. My guess is 8-10 servings. To be fair, it’s also possible they just ran out of room and opted for more artsy onions than recipe specs. Below is my interpretation. Note: the chopping and the chicken-browning takes the most active work.

Top left: wild rice, ooooh! Top right: fresh mushrooms, boom. Bottom: celery, bits of bacon, chopped mushrooms.
Top left: wild rice, ooooh! Top right: fresh mushrooms, boom. Bottom: celery, bits of bacon, a little Aidell’s sausage, chopped mushrooms.

Ingredients
7-10 slices crumbled bacon OR 1 lbs browned chicken
3/4 cups uncooked wild rice
2 cups fresh crimini mushrooms, chopped (in place of drained canned mushrooms, which I have never bought in my life. Ew.)
1 cup lite coconut milk (in place of half & half, this makes it lactose-free!)
2 cups vegetable stock (happen to have some homemade stock lying around in the freezer)
2 vegetable bouillon cubes (this is what I have in my pantry instead of chicken boullion cubes, adjusted down for the vegetable stock above)
2 Tbs butter
1 box cream of mushroom soup concentrate
3 cups water (adjusted down to compensate for liquid stock, but back up a little for cream of mushroom soup concentrate)
1 stem chopped celery (this is what I had in the backyard garden growing)

Steps

  1. Heat pan on stovetop on medium with a pat of butter, brown chicken until no longer pink.
  2. Throw everything in a large slow cooker.
  3. Cook on high at least 4 hours, verify that chicken has reached a safe internal temperature of 165, then turn to warm or low until ready to serve.
  4. Serve with a side of crackers, give a few servings to your neighbors, pack some for lunch, freeze the rest.
Mmm, soup in the Fall. I'll admit it, I feel a tiny twinge of patriotic pride using a grain that's actually from this continent..
Mmm, soup in the Fall. I’ll admit it, I feel a tiny twinge of patriotic pride using a grain that’s actually from this continent..

Fun Facts!

Did you know that wild rice is..

  • Naturally abundant in the cold rivers and lakes of Minnesota and Canada, and was the staple in the diet of the Chippewa and Sioux Indians, native to those regions. Originated in the area of the upper Great Lakes in what is now both the U.S. and Canada, also grows in California.
  • The official state grain of Minnesota & California.
  • Wild rice grown on Minnesota state waters is regulated and must be harvested in the traditional indian way. The rice must be harvested from a canoe, utilizing only a pole for power and two rice beater sticks as flails to knock the mature seeds into the bottom of the boat. It is also commercially grown, but relatively difficult. I guess this would be why it’s so expensive.
  • Wild rice has a higher protein content than most cereal grains, making it a good food for wildlife and humans.

Sources (except the expensive comment):
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/aquatic_plants/emergent_plants/wildrice.html
http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/wild-rice-september-grain-of-the-month
http://www.mnwildrice.com/riceinfo.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_rice

Novelty Rating: 4 of 5
As long as I’ve lived in Minnesota, I’ve never actually made wild rice soup, so this was fun. Gotta store up for winter!
Likelihood of Repeat: 50%
While I enjoyed eating it, it felt a little funny to make soup from soup (cream of mushroom), and I live with some one whose favorite food is definitely not soup, so I have to have a plan for consumption. I froze a bowl of it too, so it should be interesting to see how well that keeps once defrosted as an emergency just-got-back-in-town lunch. Mushrooms are a pretty good source of lean protein, too, so…there’s that..yay.
Lesson learned: coconut milk worked fine instead of half & half, hooray!

Also: turns out that despite my worries, I really can eat this for lunch for four days straight and still not find it a terrible thing by day 4. Score! Life is full of wondrous surprises, eh? Now all I have to do is learn to harvest it, and I’ll be set for the zombie apocalypse.

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