Mushrooms and wild rice were a centerpiece of my Minnesota childhood holiday meals. Both ingredients were considered “spendy” (Minnesota slang for expensive), and thus we didn’t have them everyday.
On Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter my mom would break away from the budget and our guests would be treated to luxurious dishes that made these holidays special, such as Minnesota Wild Rice Casserole which combined sautéed onions, green pepper, celery, button mushrooms, chopped pimento and lots and lots of butter.
Mushroom and wild rice soup was a budget-friendly alternative. You could have a small cup or bowl if you were out shopping, which my mom and I did at Byerly’s, an upscale grocery store in St. Paul. My sister, who lived in the more cosmopolitan Minneapolis, took me to Cafe Brenda in the 1980s, and this is the soup I came to love.
Mushroom and Wild Rice Bisque
adapted from The Cafe Brenda Cookbook: Redefining Seafood and Vegetarian Cuisine
- 3/4 C. wild rice (order from White Earth Nation/Ojibwe site)
- 7 C. vegetable or chicken stock
- 1/3 C. long-grain brown rice
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 green onion, chopped (optional) (save the green parts for garnish on top)
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 4 T. butter
- 1 pound mushrooms, sliced (I used a combination of cremini and white button)
- 2 C. half and half
- 1/4 C. parsley, chopped
- 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire
- salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse wild rice thoroughly in a strainer.
- Bring stock to a boil, add wild rice, brown rice and rosemary sprigs.
- Simmer, covered, for 1 hour or until rice is tender.
- While rice is cooking, chop vegetables.
- Sauté onions, carrot, and celery in 2 T. of butter until very soft (about 10 minutes.)
- Warm the half and half in a saucepan and add the vegetable mixture. Let steep for 5-10 minutes.
- Melt remaining 2 T. of butter and sauté the mushrooms until nicely colored and soft.
- Add half of the mushroom mixture to the vegetables and half and half. Puree the vegetables in the pot with your immersion blender or pour into a blender and puree.
- Add the pureed mixture to the rice and stock mixture and stir to combine. Take out the rosemary sprigs.
- Add the remaining sautéed mushrooms.
- Season the soup with Worcestershire, salt, pepper and parsley.
- Simmer the soup gently, until heated through but do not let it boil. Flavors develop best overnight.