wild rice soup

recipe: grandpa’s wild rice soup.

i live in “the land of 10,000 lakes”, known to most people as minnesota. i like to call it “the tundra”, especially when i’m cranky about the weather.

minnesota is known for its crazy inhabitants, who are proud of the fact that they can brave (and even enjoy!) the subzero temperatures we have here about half the year. it’s known for its 10,000+ lakes, which are literally everywhere, even smack in the middle of the cities, and are part of the reason kids here learn to swim and ice skate before they can walk.

and minnesota is known for its wild rice. there are festivals dedicated to it, folklore written about it, and lots of hotdish recipes utilizing it. my favorite of these being the ubiquitous wild rice soup.

it’s safe to say that almost every family in minnesota has their own favorite wild rice soup recipe. my best friend’s mom makes a ridiculously delicious version that we beg her to make whenever we visit, i’ve made a version with pheasant in it, and my grandpa OF COURSE has his own take on it.

this is one of the soups from grandpa that i can remember him making for us. i remember the smell of the wild rice cooking in the broth on their stovetop in st. cloud. i remember the chopped vegetables sitting on the counter waiting to be put in the pot. and i remember sitting at the round kitchen table with the pink placemats eating it with grandma and grandpa while the snow fell outside on the crabtrees.

grandpa had his own memories of this soup. it brought him back to summer vacations up north with the family, eating together in the dining hall and talking with the owner of the resort after enjoying a gorgeous minnesota day.

if you want a taste of minnesota, make this soup. and add a little extra allspice if you need some warming up.

wild rice soup makes a large pot of soup, enough to serve 4-6 and freeze half

  • 1/2 C. wild rice
  • 8 C. chicken or turkey stock or broth
  • 1/2 C. celery, diced
  • 1/2 C. onion, diced
  • 4 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 C. green pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots, sliced into half moons
  • 1/4 C. butter
  • 1/2 C. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp. almonds, slivered
  • 1 Tbsp. pimiento, chopped (we didn’t use this because we couldn’t find it)
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice (more if desired, we used more and it was delicious) [edited: my mom told me that the actual recipe calls for “Cavender’s all-greek seasoning”, which is like an everything seasoning. i used allspice, a blend of clove, cinnamon and other spices. if you want a less “warm” seasoning to your soup, use the Cavender’s, but this tastes just as good. oh the joy and excitement of family recipes!]
  • 1 C. cream
  • 1 C. chicken or turkey, cubed or shredded (more if desired and/or you have a hungry man to feed)

cook wild rice in chicken stock/broth in a large soup pot until tender (about 45 minutes simmered), then remove from heat. in a large skillet, saute celery, onion, mushrooms, green pepper and carrots in butter until tender (i used more vegetable than the recipe calls for to add some bulk). add flour to the vegetables, stir and cook 1 to 2 minutes. add the vegetable/flour mixture along with all the other ingredients except the cream to the broth and wild rice. check the seasoning and adjust if needed. add cream just before serving and heat the soup back to the desired temperature. (if the soup is too thick, add a little more broth or water.)

note from grandpa: “this soup brings back fond memories of the “driftwood lodge” on whitefish lake in pine river, minnesota. we spent many family vacations there int he summer, staying in a large cabin. we enjoyed every day there, doing activities such as swimming, fishing and sailing. the proprietor served this soup in the lodge’s main dining room and we all loved it.”

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pheasant wild rice soup.

i made this last night. and man oh man was it a good way to spend a monday night. (the idea for this was a product of our great meal-planning on sunday.) i was supposed to cook it with Mister Man, but we had this teeny-tiny little snowstorm come through, and he and his work compadres decided it was better to head up to their conference early instead of risking a dangerous drive today. darn those reasonable thinkers. (and don’t listen to my husband, i’m not mad about it boss-man! i enjoyed watching the bachelor “women tell all” quite a bit!)

oh well, more soup for me! i highly suggest making this soon. you probably have most of the ingredients on hand already and it will make you feel old-fashioned like an ingalls daughter. and if you don’t happen to be married to someone who shoots at wild fowl for a hobby every fall, you can easily substitute chicken for the pheasant, or leave it out altogether.

this is what it really looks like when i cook. i am the messiest in the kitchen. i try to keep it clean, but usually it looks like i took all my ingredients and threw them up in the air and onto the counter.

wild rice soup

wild rice

the photo above is what i sent to Mister Man to just REALLY rub in the fact that he wasn’t here eating soup with me.

wild rice soup with pheasant (adapted from the byerly’s wild rice soup recipe)

prep: 10 minutes total time: 1 hour 10-12 servings

  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. minced onion
  • 3/4 C. flour
  • 4 1/2 C. chicken broth
  • 4 C. cooked wild rice
  • 3/4 C. finely grated carrots
  • 2/3 C. diced cubed ham (find this in the butcher area)
  • 6 Tbsp. slivered  almonds
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 C. half and half
  • 2 Tbsp. dry white wine (optional, but highly encouraged)
  • 4-8 baked pheasant breasts, depending on their size (about 2 cups when shredded)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 8×10 baking pan with aluminum foil and lay pheasant breasts in the pan. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Cover pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 35-40 minutes until no longer pink in the middle, taking the aluminum foil off the top for the last 5-10 minutes of baking. While pheasant is baking, in large saucepan, melt butter; saute onion until tender. Whisk in flour, then gradually add broth. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil and stir 1 minute.  Stir in rice, carrots, ham, almonds and salt; simmer about 5 minutes.  Blend in half and half and wine; when pheasant is done, shred with hands, discarding tough pieces. Add to soup and heat to serving temperature.

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