This is a delicious and easy soup to make. It is also so light and nutritious that you will feel virtuous eating it.
The key is using a very good chicken broth. I made my own, using the carcass of a roasted chicken we had the night before but I also like Swanson’s Chicken Broth (a brand I use all the time in my cooking.)
Since the soup was so simple (frozen gyoza dumplings from Trader Joe’s, chopped vegetables, aromatics) I took the extra time to reduce and strain my broth twice to remove impurities and boost the flavor.
I even took the time to make a ‘raft’ of egg whites to clarify the broth further. Have you heard of this French technique?
Lightly whip 3-4 egg whites (depending on how much broth you have) and bring the broth just to a boil, pour the egg whites on top of the broth and turn the broth down to a simmer. The egg whites coagulate on top, forming a ‘raft’ and the proteins, foam, and other ‘floaties’ gravitate to the raft and stick there, clarifying your broth.
After several minutes, you ladle out the egg white raft and throw it away and you have a very clear, clean soup.
My mother made beef consommé from scratch for my brother’s high school French class and I remember her using this technique to the letter (probably from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.) I also remember her saying that the classic consommé was a lot of work and what you end up with is beef stock!
Photo credit: WGBH
So fiddle with your stock or not, but do make this soup and feel good whilst slurping it.
- 6 cups clear chicken broth (homemade if you can bother)
- 1 slice fresh ginger root, peeled (a coin about 1/4 in. thick will do)
- 1 cup diced peeled carrots (about 2 medium)
- 1 package frozen chicken, pork or shrimp gyoza from Trader Joe’s (I used pork but the shrimp gyoza are also very good
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 4 thinly sliced green onions, with green tops for garnish
- Heat the broth to simmer and add the carrots, celery, and ginger.
- Simmer for 10 minutes and then remove the ginger root (the broth should be lightly infused with ginger.)
- Bring soup up to just a boil and add the gyoza dumplings, immediately turn the heat back down so dumplings are at a simmer.
- Add the soy sauce and the green onions.
- Simmer dumplings for about 8 minutes until tender.
- Ladle soup and dumplings into bowls and garnish with the parsley.
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.
Wild rice is actually a grass, sustainably harvested by hand by the Ojibwe Nation in northern Minnesota.
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.
The Ojibwe people still harvest wild rice by hand in Northern Minnesota. Photo: White Earth Nation.