Thursday, April 28, 2016

Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup

-with toasted almonds, chives, and Gruyere toasts

Today is just one of those days. Yes, it's Spring and we've had a spate of nice weather days. But you know the old saying "April showers bring May flowers?" Today is a day of April showers. It's been gray, rainy, and cloudy since I woke up. Not only do I get a day off from keeping the un-sprouted seeds in the garden moist, but it's the perfect day for a comforting bowl of soup.

For all you cooks out there, if you've been doing it awhile, you know you have your basic soups. Soups that start with a mirepoix (onions, celery, carrot), you add broth, and then at the end, you add other stuff. Like, Chicken Noodle Soup. There's your simple, devised of mostly one ingredient (i.e. Tomato Soup anyone?) that simmers to the right consistency.  There's your chilis, your stews, your slow cooker soups. And then, there's this soup.

This soup is thickened by a flavorful concoction of flour that is cooked until caramelized and brown. A roux, if you will. I've made roux for gravy before, but that's it. I hadn't had the pleasure of making a soup thickened by a roux yet, and it was life-changing. Just when I thought I'd seen all the different soup techniques there were to see, I found something new.

I LOVE when that happens!! It opens a whole new world of ideas. Delicious ideas!

The soup starts with the good stuff- bacon and mushrooms. And lots of em'!

There's quite a bit of garlic in the soup too. Since it called for minced garlic, I like to smash my cloves with a knife first. The outer peel just falls right off. So easy. 

A bouquet of fresh herbs simmers in the broth, and is discarded in the end. I used fresh thyme from the garden, but I don't have any other herbs yet. I had to purchase some parsley and sage. I can't wait for my herbs to come in!

I used a blend of wild rice for this soup. I didn't anticipate having a hard time finding wild rice at my local market, but surprisingly, I did. This was one of the only wild rice products I could find. Luckily, it worked like a charm. Two thumbs up for this blend.

Ah, the roux. It's added at the very end of cooking. Stir it into the final soup until it begins to thicken the pot. 

You'll end up with a hearty soup, full of unbelievable rich flavor. I'm not kidding folks- this one, it's a winner.

Now, I do have chives in the garden right now, so I chopped up a handful of those to top the soup with. We also garnished the soup with toasted almonds. 

As for the Gruyere toast, I simply sliced up a french bread loaf and placed the slices on a cookie sheet. I topped the slices with Gruyere cheese, and popped them in the oven under the broiler. As soon as the toasts started to brown a bit, I pulled them. This soup and Gruyere make a perfect combination.

Dinner iz served :-)

So, I actually started this post yesterday. I totally meant to finish it up and post it, but cookies came between me and posting. And by cookies, I mean my dad's birthday cookies. My dad loves peanut butter cookies. So this year, we decided on Homemade Tagalongs. Well, I'd looked up the recipe, studied it, purchased all my supplies, and yesterday, I got down to business. They sounded easy! A shortbread cookie, a layer of peanut butter, and then a dip in chocolate. Easy, right?

Easy? Yes. Fast? Nooooooooo. Between chilling the dough, frosting the peanut butter onto the cookies, dipping them in chocolate, letting them set, cutting them from the chocolate... It was an all-day affair. But, these are my dad's birthday cookies. What better time to spend all day on cookies than when you are making them for a birthday present? Well worth the effort! That being said, these cookies are AMAZING. I can't wait to post them. Which probably won't be till next month. 

And what a month May will be! I swear you guys, most of my posts that are ready to go are all baked goods. Between all the work we are doing outside and getting the garden ready, I haven't been cooking much. We've been eating a lot of salads. However, it is currently birthday season and I've been churning out cookies and cupcakes like no one's business! I might just make it official and say, yes, May will be about chocolate. And brown sugar. And ice cream. 

But in the meantime, enjoy this soup! Happy Thursday everyone!

Recipe Source: Fine Cooking

Ingredients (serves 8-10):

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 lb white mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup wild rice
6 cups Chicken Broth (sub store-bought)
fresh herbs (I used a handful thyme, parsley, and sage)
1 bay leaf
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
garnish- thinly sliced chives, toasted almond slices (optional)

8 slices french bread
1 cup Gruyere cheese


1. Place bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Render the bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms to pan and stir to coat with bacon fat. Spread them around the pan. Allow them to cook undisturbed for 4-6 minutes, or until browned. Stir in the onion, carrot, and celery. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, or until veggies begin to soften. Add the rice, stir to mix. Add in chicken broth, and bring soup to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer.
2. Using kitchen twine, tie your fresh herbs together and place herb packet in the soup. Add bay leaf to pan. Cook, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, or until rice is tender.
3. While the soup is simmering, make the roux. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the butter. When melted, add flour. Constantly whisk the mixture until the roux beings to turn a dark brown color, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside.
4. To prepare the toast- place slices of french bread on a cookie sheet. Distribute cheese evenly among slices. Place cookie sheet in the oven under broil. Toast bread until cheese is melted and toast is starting to brown. Set aside.
5. Remove herb packet and bay leaf from soup, discard. Slowly add the roux to the soup, stirring constantly. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until soup starts to thicken. Season with salt and pepper. Remove pan from heat, and stir in cream. Ladle soup into bowls and top with chives and almonds, if using. Serve soup with Gruyere toasts.

Printable Recipe

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  1. Make sure you keep my cookies a secret from people in Oregon. I plan on going down to the workshop and eating them all before anyone knows they're here. If anyone finds out, I'll explain it was a "senior moment" and I had no control over myself. Everyone is already used to that so it won't be a big deal! Good job Jess! :)

    1. Well Dad, hopefully no one in Oregon reads the blog because they would now know the cookies are en route. LOL. Good luck defending your cookies, may the odds be ever in your favor :-) And Happy Birthday one day early!!

  2. Oh yum! That looks like a perfect soup! I'd love to have some any time. My husband only tolerates soup every once in a while, but I'm going to make it anyway! Pinned and can't wait to try it!

    1. I love soup anytime too! I still make soup in the summer too! I can't help myself, soup is one of my favorite things ever :-)

      Have a great weekend Carlee!

  3. You had me at mushrooms and bacon! ;) That soup looks divine and is yet another of your wonderful recipes that I have to try. Happy Birthday to your Dad!

    1. Thanks Debbie! Mushrooms and bacon make perfect bedfellows I think :-)

      I hope you have a great weekend Debbie!

  4. Your dad is funny! I hope he got his cookies all to himself. Tomorrow the high is going to be in the low 60's and I was just thinking a nice pot of soup for Sunday Supper would be perfect - YUM! This soup looks so darn good, if I can find good mushrooms at the market tomorrow - this is what I'm making!

    1. My dad is a hoot! He definitely has his own sense of humor :-)

      I hope you were able to find some good mushrooms! You'll have to let me know how this turns out if you made it.

      Have a great week Kelli!

  5. This is so much my kind of soup! I LOVE wild rice, it's quite easy to find up here. I have even been on some of the lakes where it is harvested in northern Minnesota.

    The Tagalongs sound like the perfect birthday treat for your dad! I give you so much credit for having the patience to make them.

    Have a great week :)

    1. I couldn't believe wild rice was hard to find! Even in the boonies, I never thought it would be hard to find. I mean, it's rice! At any rate, I did enjoy that blend I was able to find :-)

      Everyone really liked the cookies, so that day of baking was well worth the impatience that had set in by the end of the day :-)

      I hope you have a great week too Kris!

    2. When I run into a store with the "good" rice again, I am getting you a bag! I just have to remember where I find the real "wild" kind at :)

    3. I like it! Two thumbs up!! :-)


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