It’s 86 degrees outside but the calendar says September 29th and that means it is soup season, no matter the temperature. Chicken Wild Rice Soup is a Minnesota classic – it’s on many a restaurant menu and ranges from a brothy textured soup studded with shredded chicken, vegetables and rice to a so-thick-you-could-eat-it-with-a-fork cream version that many of us know and love. My happiness lies squarely in the middle of these two varieties – I like a slight thickness that comes with some added flour and heavy cream and always always always using true hand-harvested wild rice (that’s actually an aquatic grass!) instead of the tough as nails cultivated variety.
In preparation for my Minnesota Live appearance this week, I found a 2019 Saveur Magazine article by my friend Amy Thielen to be fascinating and so helpful. She details her visit to Little Elbow Lake near her home in Northern Minnesota to see how the people White Earth Band of Ojibwe harvest the wild rice using traditional methods. In my opinion, it’s the only wild rice to buy as it’s delicate texture, nutty flavor and lovely burst appearance when cooked is far superior to the hard, black, cultivated “wild” rice.
Once you get your hands on some true wild rice, you can make this soup.
Chicken Wild Rice Soup
1 cup hand harvested wild rice
7 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Turkey Herbs seasoning
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
Rinse the wild rice well. In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups chicken stock and 1 cup wild rice to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Do not drain.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and butter in a stockpot or Dutch oven. Season the chicken thighs with the Turkey Herbs (or other “Thanksgiving” herb blend) and salt and pepper. Cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, until browned. Remove the pan and set aside. Chop when cooled. Meanwhile, add the vegetables to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the remaining 4 cups of chicken stock. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then add the wild rice (and liquid), the chicken and the heavy cream to the pot. Stir gently and simmer for just a few minutes more. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Shower with parsley and serve.