Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup
break out the fuzzy socks and soup pots, it’s totally fall now
things you’ll need: mushrooms, leeks (shallot, other onion, and/or garlic), celery, carrots, stock/bouillon (veggie, chicken, or beef), butter/olive oil, dried mushrooms like porcini (plus the soaking liquid), rice (black rice, wild rice, barley, faro, or whatever), dry sherry, tomato paste, sherry vinegar, salt, pepper, and whatever herbs/spices you want
mostly taken from Deb Perlman on Smitten Kitchen, but with a few additional herbs and spices
incidentally gluten-free and vegetarian, vegan if you don’t use butter
Technically, it’s been fall for a little while, but the trees have started to kaleidoscope and shiver in the wind. You even went searching for the box labeled “scarves” and shook out the bounty of hoodies you collected during the winter lockdown when they became your daily uniform.
When the lockdown orders came down the first time, you felt vaguely crazed in your soup-making. If it could be soup, it was made into soup. You packed your freezer full of meat and vegetable scraps to boil into stock for future soups. It was a strange frenzy born of panic and scarcity. Perhaps you thought that, if nothing else was certain, at least you would be fed.
Cases are falling, people have mostly returned to each other, and something akin to ease has settled, occasionally, into your body. Many things have yet to change and old grief still lingers around you. Many of the hopes you clung to have fallen into cynicism and you wonder if a lasting change will ever make it through the deadlock of us vs them, in its many iterations. But once again, you don your fuzzy socks and turn to the comfort of a bubbling pot of warm soup to soothe you.
Start with the dried mushrooms that you’ve added to your pantry necessities, now that you are an avid post-quarantine pantry stocker. Add a palm full, less than a cup, of dried mushrooms to two cups of boiling water and let them steep while you slice up a big leek, a couple of carrots, and a rib or two of celery for your mirepoix. If you are in the mood, chop up some garlic or shallot too. Slice up a pound (or more) of mushrooms and set it all aside.
In your beloved stockpot, which also loves you well, heat up a hunk of butter (or olive oil) until hot and shimmering. Add your leeks and sauté until translucent, add your mushrooms (and garlic/shallot), and cook until the mushrooms release their water and begin to brown. Toss in your celery and carrots along with the herbs of your choice (paprika, thyme, chili flake, maybe a little cinnamon or garam masala, or whatever moves you). Cook until fragrant and the carrots begin to soften.
Add your rice or other grain (1/2-1 cup) and stir to coat. Pour in ¼ cup and a splash more of dry sherry. Let it sizzle for a moment while you add a dollop (heavy Tablespoon-ish) of tomato paste and two quarts of stock (even though the recipe says six cups, which is a quart and a half, but you would rather use it all). Let that slowly come up to a boil.
Drain the dried mushrooms from their liquid and strain any grit from the remaining soaking liquid (now broth). Finely chop the dried mushrooms and add them to the pot along with the strained mushroom broth.
Once your pot reaches a slow boil, drop to simmer and cook until the grains have softened. Add a little sherry vinegar (another healthy tablespoon or more) and then salt and pepper to taste. If you think it’s missing a little something more, adjust until you are happy.
Top with fresh parsley, put on some warm socks, and relax into the comfort of a warm bowl. Pack the leftovers into quarts to freeze or share, arrange your freezer and prepare for the months of soup ahead.
As always, thank you for subscribing!
If you’d like to support this work, please consider becoming a paid subscriber, hit that Like button, share, forward, follow on Instagram (@eatwellenough), or otherwise spread the word about this project.
I keep going because you keep reading 💚 🍽 💚
Leave a comment or drop a line at email@example.com