Wild rice soup

I got to thinking about wild rice because I’ve been working on a novel about the Canadian fur trade, which was heavily dependent on the native peoples for pemmican (dried buffalo meat pounded with fat and dried berries) and wild rice, the diet upon which wintering traders depended. The wild rice was harvested by taking a slow canoe along the edges of rivers and streams, shaking the rice into the bottom of the canoe as one went. And that sounds picturesque and wholesome, so I wanted to cook some.

By itself, it’s nutty and chewy. Not bad, if you have some salt, and especially if you have a little fat with it too. But it bothers Sparks’ tummy and the kid won’t eat black food, so it was hard to get through a batch by myself. Thus: wild rice soup, my way. Lemony. Peppery. Full of herbs.

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Flipping through the internet, it seems like most wild rice soups are essentially chowders, built on white sauce. That sounds yummy, but I have psychological issues around eating bowls full of white sauce, so I wanted to lighten mine up. I wanted it to be opaque and rich, but also very much liquid, if you get my meaning. So. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

WILD RICE SOUP

Wild rice: pre-cooked, 1 cup dry measure. You cook it by boiling it in a lot of water for 45-60 minutes, then draining. As you’ll see later in this recipe, letting the rice suck up the soup broth is part of the *thing* here, so don’t worry if the rice is a little under.

Once you have your rice cooked, chop and saute 1 large onion and 2 large carrots, or the equivalent, in about a tablespoon of oil until the onions are translucent.

Here comes the white sauce part: add 4 tablespoons butter, let it melt, then sprinkle 1/3 cup AP flour on everything and mix it up. Then add 8 cups of liquid, composed of at least 4 cups chicken broth (I use Knorr Chicken Powder to make mine) and up to 4 cups milk (I used 2 cups milk, and therefore 6 cups broth). Add a splash of heavy cream: anywhere up to a cup, depending on how rich you want this.

Now let it come to a boil, so it thickens for you. While it does that, you can entertain yourself by adding 2 T dried parsley, 1 t dried thyme, salt to taste, black pepper to taste (and this needs quite a lot of black pepper to taste right–I did two “grind until I’m sick of grinding” sessions), and the juice of 1 small or 1/2 large lemon.

The broth won’t be awfully thick, just thicker than water, if you get my meaning. When it’s boiling, add your cooked wild rice as well as any bits of leftover cooked chicken, turkey, or pork that are seeming dry and unappetizing. This is a great way to use them up.

At this point, you can eat the soup. But because this is a great big pot of soup you probably aren’t going to eat it all right away…and this is when the magic happens.

The wild rice will suck up almost all the broth, leaving you with something that’s less a soup than a savory porridge. And it is delightful, and that’s what is pictured at the beginning of this entry.

Do try it. It’s low glycemic index, surprisingly filling, and soooooooooooo soothing.

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