Soup?!! In the middle of May?!! I know it seems a little off, but it's been kinda chilly around here and the thought of a hot bowl of soup seems very inviting right now! This was made pre-kitchen renovation and for some reason or other got bumped from the queue and I thought I wouldn't get to share this with you until maybe the fall (aka the return of soup season). And that would have been a crying shame because this Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup might just be one of the best soups I have ever made or eaten! It's full of intense mushroom flavor and oh so comforting with a velvety, smooth texture. If you're feeling a little chilly too (and here in the Northeast they're not only predicting below temps weather for the next few days but a Nor'easter for the weekend too-yikes!!) then this out-of-season treat is just what you need!!
What is it about coming home to a hot steaming bowl of wonderfulness? Truthfully, I could eat soup all year long and if you've been keeping up with the blog, then you know how much my husband ADORES his soup, so we eat a lot of it around here--I probably make a batch of it per week, or that is I did, until our little kitchen extravaganza. What I'm trying to say and taking way too long to do so, is that me rating this soup as one of "the best" really means a lot!! Now, if you take a look at the ingredient list you may shy away but PLEASE don't let it scare you off--none of the steps are difficult and the end result is so fabulous that the extra effort is entirely worth it!
Part of what makes this so intensely flavorful is the fact that you not only sauté fresh mushrooms but also add ground up dried shitake mushrooms to the broth, doubling the mushroom goodness! Two is always better than one, right? Plus the wild rice adds a ton of earthy, nutty texture and flavor. No soup from a can "can" come close! Ok, I think the lack of a kitchen is finally starting to make me crack--and speaking of kitchens, here's another sneak peek. We're getting closer--hardware is on the cabinets and they installed all the appliances today. Could we be just about a week away from completion? Can't wait to cook up a storm (and maybe this soup again if all this very un-spring like weather keeps it up!!)
Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup
Makes about 6 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes (much of this is hands-free though)
- 4 1/4 cups water, divided
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled-leave 1 whole and mince the other 4
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup wild rice
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced about 1/4 thick (you could also you ordinary mushrooms or your favorite kind here)
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 2/3 cup dry sherry
- 1/4 ounce dried shitake mushrooms, finely ground in spice grinder or coffee grinder
- 4 cups chicken broth (you could use veggie broth if you want to keep this vegetarian)
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1. Make sure the oven rack is in the center of the oven and preheat to 375ºF. Place 4 cups of the water, bay leaf, whole garlic clove, salt and baking soda in a medium oven-proof saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the rice, stir and return to a boil. Then, cover the pot and place it in the oven to cook for about 35-50 minutes, until the rice is tender. Taste to be sure. Drain the rice in a fine-mesh colander set over a large measuring cup, so that you capture as much of the rice liquid as possible. Throw out the bay leaf and garlic and add enough water so that the liquid measures 3 cups. Set aside.
2. While the rice is baking, melt the butter in a large pot over high heat. Add the cremini mushrooms, onion, tomato paste, minced garlic, pepper and a few shakes of salt. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every now and then, until veggies are browned. Add in the sherry, stirring to scrape up any browned bits that may be stuck to the bottom of the pot and let cook for about 2 minutes, until almost entirely evaporated. Stir in the ground shitake mushrooms, broth, soy sauce, and reserved rice liquid and bring to a boil. Then, lower the heat, cover the pot and let simmer for about 20 minutes, until the mushrooms and onions are tender.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup water. Stir the mixture into the soup and let simmer for another 2 minutes or so to allow the broth to thicken. Remove from the heat and add the rice, cream and lemon zest. Stir well. Then cover and let sit for about 20 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper if necessary and serve.
4. Soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days and reheated over low heat.
Note: Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated All Time Best Soups. I tinkered with the ingredients a bit--left out thyme and chives and cut down on the salt.