My favorite way to end a winter day is with a hearty bowl of soup for supper. Every winter Mark and I discover a new favorite to add to our repertoire, and this year it’s this wild rice and mushroom concoction–thanks to Cooks Illustrated. With the abundance of shiitake mushrooms on our logs this year we had a half gallon jar of dried ‘shrooms to find creative ways to use, and this wonderful earthy soup is at the top of the list. As is true of most soups, this one tastes even better the 2nd day.
This recipe is adapted slightly from the one I found in Cooks Illustrated, a magazine that I recommend for those intrigued by the science of cooking. I especially recommend it for those who eat meat a fair bit, which we don’t. I’ve learned a lot from my subscription this year, but since their focus is rather meat-heavy I won’t be renewing my subscription. This recipe, however, is delightfully full of heart- and planet-healthy vegetables and grains.
Wild Rice Mushroom Soup
4 cups water
1 sprig thyme, fresh if you have it
1 bay leaf
4-5 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup wild rice
1/4 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
1 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon tomato paste (I keep cubes frozen in ice cube trays in the freezer for such a time as this)
2/3 cup of sherry or any dry wine you have on hand (I tend to have an unfinished bottle of pinot noir in my pantry)
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup water
cup half-n-half (or heavy cream)
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Bring 4 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, 1 of the garlic cloves, ¾ teaspoon salt, and baking soda to boil in a Dutch oven or oven-proof medium saucepan. Add rice and return to boil. Cover and transfer pot to the oven, and bake until rice is tender, 35 to 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, grind shiitake mushrooms in spice or coffee grinder until finely ground and slice cremini mushrooms, chop onion, and mince remaining garlic. Set aside.
Strain the rice through fine-mesh strainer, saving the liquid. Discard thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Add enough water to the reserved cooking liquid to measure 3 cups.
Melt butter in the Dutch oven over high heat. Add cremini mushrooms, onion, garlic, tomato paste, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned and a dark fond develops on bottom of pot, 15 minutes.
Add wine, scraping up browned bits, and cook until liquid is reduced and the pot is almost dry, about 2 minutes.
Add the ground shiitake mushrooms, reserved rice cooking liquid, vegetable or chicken broth, soy sauce, and bring to boil. Reduce to low and simmer, covered, until onion and mushrooms are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk cornstarch into ¼ cup water. Stir cornstarch slurry into soup, return to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in cooked rice, half-n-half, chives, and lemon zest.
Cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.