For the past month or two, I have been preparing a meal every Sunday that cooks all day in the Crock-Pot on Monday and welcomes us home for an easy, satisfying supper. Earlier this week I made a delicious Wild Rice soup in our Crock-Pot.* I bought Wild Rice that was raised on the Red Lake Reservation, a community about 40 miles from where my parents live in northern Minnesota. When I buy Wild Rice, I seek out rice raised on a reservation from that region, White Earth, Red Lake and Leech Lake Bands all harvest and sell wild rice. It is the very best wild rice, and I like knowing where it comes from, and supporting the local economy in these communities with the purchase. Before establishing a weekly Crock-Pot routine, we often arrived home on a Monday night tired, a little worn down from stress of the new work week and in no mood to cook. Nights like that, we often end up going out to eat. Sure, it is nice to be able to give ourselves a night off, but neither of us are thrilled about using part of our “dining” budget on a last-minute meal that we haven’t anticipated as a nice evening out. As much as I have been resistant to planning meals ahead in the past, I am tentatively starting to use forethought to my advantage. I am glad I didn’t know I would start doing this 6 years ago though. I think I would have been scared by the prospect of becoming a crazed Crock-Pot enthusiast, or at least would have hoped that the meal was served with a touch of irony. It turns out, at this point in my life, the routine is the opposite of scary, and there isn’t a hint of irony involved. Making a small effort to have a meal ready when I come home is breathing new life into Mondays! I leave for work in the morning feeling organized and like a real, functioning grown up. When the evening ahead crosses my mind throughout the day I look forward to being welcomed home by the scent of simmering soup seeping from the cracks of my old house as I approach the door. As I cross the threshold, I have little to do to enjoy a satisfying supper and a relaxing evening.
To make this week’s soup, I chopped and measured all of the ingredients into the liner of our Crock-Pot on Sunday night, covered it, and placed it in the fridge.
Minnesota Wild Rice Soup Ingredients:
- 1 Medium Onion, Chopped
- 2 Stalks of Celery, Diced
- 1 large Handful of Julienned Carrots, or about 2 Medium Carrots, Chopped
- 2 Yukon Gold Potatoes, Washed and Chopped
- 5 to 8 Button or Cremini Mushrooms, Wiped Clean and Sliced
- 2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts optional
- 1 Cup of Minnesota-Grown Wild Rice
- ½ Cup Brown Rice – not necessary, but it is cheaper, and adds additional texture to the soup.
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Tarragon Leaves
- 1 Teaspoon Poultry Seasoning
- 2 Bay Leaves – remove before serving.
- 2 – 32 Ounce Carton of Vegetable, Chicken or Turkey Broth
- A Splash of Skim Milk, Half and Half or Heavy Cream optional.
- Salt and Pepper, to taste.
You might notice that there is no oil or butter in my recipe. Some soup recipes call for sautéing the onion before putting it in the crock. I find that step to be unnecessary. With the long, slow cooking process, everything cooks thoroughly and all of the flavors blend well. As an added bonus, without sautéing any of the vegetables in butter or oil, calories are spared. Monday morning, I added the carton of broth, gave it a stir, and set the crock to cook on low heat for 8 hours. I am not sure if all slow cookers have this feature, but my crock switches to “Warm” when the programmed cooking time is done. It works wonderfully to keep the soup warm, but not to continue to cook it longer than needed. This recipe made a nice amount of soup for us for supper and leftovers for lunch. We don’t need more than two meals of soup, but there would be plenty of room in the crock to double the recipe to feed a larger group, or to freeze extra soup for a later date. If the entire crock of soup will be devoured the night it is first served, I might add just a touch more Tarragon and Poultry Seasoning, because seasoning was a bit faint on first night. We thought that the seasoning in the soup came together nicely when we reheated it for our lunches at work. This is great soup to make in advance and reheat.
If I was making this strictly for meat-eaters,** I would add a few boneless, skinless chicken breasts to the crock when I added the broth. The chicken breasts can be chopped and mixed back into the soup right before serving
If there are vegetarians in your house who are not strict about meat juices in their food,*** you could even cook the chicken breasts in the soup, take them out and then add chopped chicken to the bowls of only those who want it. If you want your soup to be strictly vegetarian, chicken can be cooked separately, and added to the bowls of those who want it, or not cooked at all, if no one is eating meat. There is a continuum upon which every vegetarian places themselves that ranges from unoffended by some exposure of their food to meat at the one end, to completely avoiding meat coming into contact with their food or having meat juices in their food at the other end of the continuum. You need to do what works for you and yours, and this recipe is easily adapted to accommodate varied diets. The only remaining step is optional. About ten minutes before serving you can stir in a splash of warmed milk, half and half or cream. The soup would be fine without it, but I really like having a little milk or cream in my soup.
Tonight, we didn’t top our soup with anything, but some sliced almonds or sunflower seeds would be nice. I also like a little shredded cheddar on my wild rice soup upon occasion. Some people wouldn’t go near soup without a shot of spicy Rooster Sauce, or Sriracha for those who are less familiar with what has become the most popular condiment in the world. The soup is very hearty and satisfying on its own, so you don’t need much to round out the meal. A chunk of warm, crusty bread, with or without butter and cheese would be perfect. Tonight I pulled out a few crackers from the pantry, which I served with some sliced white cheddar and Asiago cheese.
Growing up, my Mom always served egg salad along with soup or chili, so it is what I crave when we’re having soup for dinner, so of course, I made some. The egg salad was mostly made before I realized that we had no mayonnaise. I used Dijonnaise instead, and it turned out to be a surprisingly good substitution for regular mayo. Dijonnaise has the creaminess of mayo, and with the kick of Dijon mustard flavor, I swear that you cannot tell that it is fat-free.
When life is busy and stressful, there are little things you can do for yourself and your family to provide warmth and calm. Coming home to delicious soup for supper that has simmered slowly in the Crock-Pot all day feeds the body and soul. We loved this creamy, comforting soup full of vegetables and wild rice. I will make it again soon.
*I apologize if trademark dilution offends you. My slow cooker just so happens to be a Crock-Pot. Words like Crock-Pot, Kleenex and Kraft Dinner are far too deeply embedded in my vocabulary to use their proper generic terminology, especially since I actually use these brands.
**I can’t think of why I would make this soup solely for meat eaters. It is so good! I would want a bowl. Maybe if I made a separate crock of the meat-free version for a party.
***In my reference to vegetarians who are not strict about being meat-free, I might be politely referring to households with picky children.
I love it when your writing includes the senses. I can actually see the aroma wafting out of the house….see excerpt below! It creates a very happy picture of a person approaching their home after a hard days work.
“I look forward to being welcomed home by the scent of simmering soup seeping from the cracks of my old house as I approach the door. As I cross the threshold, I have little to do to enjoy a satisfying supper and a relaxing evening.”
I would love to see a Mary Englebreit illustration this writing paints of the coming-home scene you have described….
Last week I made this soup for a Tuesday dinner. I prepped it the night before using “cheats” of frozen carrot slices and pre-packaged chopped onions because I was a little tired. I did not get to the potatoes and never did add them, but I did put brown rice in. Although the potatoes would have been tasty I do not think their absence was overall detrimental to the final product. (I also forgot the bay leaves that were in your photo but not on the recipe list. Also not overall detrimental.) In the morning I added two slices of chicken breast to my slow cooker, poured in the chicken broth and turned it on low. I did had some heavy whipping cream sitting around so I added it a bit before serving. My goal was to make homemade bread to serve with this, but I ran out of time and settled for quicker-to-bake biscuits. Between the soup and the bicuits cooking, my DH (dear husband) commented on the “homey” smell upon his arrival home.
So I added some cheese to the tops of the bowls and we sat down to dinner. The picky kids picked out the chicken and pretty much only ate that. (They are are opposite from you! LOL)
The wild rice taste, which is very distinctive, was quite strong and one we aren’t used to. Once our tastebuds got accustomed to the flavor however, we both agreed it was a keeper recipe, especially for a Lenten Friday meal because it was filling.
I would also describe it as a “full-bodied” soup with all the veggies being in it, warm and hearty without being “heavy,” and robust in flavor. It’s a recipe that allows the food to speak for itself without too much spice.
Now that was Tuesday and we had leftovers, so I put them in Pyrex for another meal. And I have to say, letting it sit for a couple days REALLY blended the flavor nicely. I think we liked it MORE having it for leftovers because of that than we did the time it was made!
Overall, it was a great culinary experience linking me for a night to my MN roots. Thanks for the post! Looking forward to making this again when it’s a little cooler out 🙂
Hi Mrs. Hobbs:
Thank you for your thorough review. I’m all for using “cheats” whenever needed and available. I also all for making foods that are easy and make the DH happy – both are keys to a happy home 🙂 I hope that if you see any other recipes that peak your interest that you give feedback. It helps improve on the recipes and on the blog, and it is interesting to me to know how and what others eat. Its still kind of chilly and rainy here in MN, so I’m still in the mode of warming meals. I will probably make a major switch toward grilling in weeks to come. Thanks for visiting the blog and for the clarity or your feedback.
This looks amazing… I have been looking for a good wild rice soup recipe since I movend to MN almost 13 years ago. Can’t wait to try it!
I peeked at your blog, and I will keep visiting. I see that you strive for simplified meal times. This is a super meal for someone who wants a delicious, full flavored, comforting meal without being harried getting it on the table. It is also perfect for a day like today–the sun is shining, but there is a chill in the air. Let me know how you like it when you have a chance. Meg
Pingback: Friday Football Fix: Week 9 | sportsglutton
Pingback: Menu plan – week of November 16th, 2012 | thriftytendencies
Pingback: Menu plan – week of November 23th, 2012 | thriftytendencies
Thanks for the recipe, I’ll be trying it out tonight!
I just wanted to mention one thing: the wild rice you used is ‘cultivated’ which means that it was grown in a patty from a scientifically developed seed, and harvested mechanically. It is not really ‘wild’ nor hand harvested. I am not too sure if it matters to you or not, and perhaps you are already aware of this.
I harvested real wild rice this fall for the first time and was amazed that the stuff sold in the stores as ‘cultivated wild rice’ was not the real deal. The way to tell besides being labeled ‘cultivated’ is the dark black grains. Real wild rice will look almost green or brown and will have way more taste. The taste varies from what lake it is from and when in the season it was harvested. Here’s a link to explain more: http://www.worldissues360.com/index.php/differences-between-true-wild-rice-and-cultivated-wild-rice-18781/
Either way, it is still great to support the reservations, I just wanted to clear up this common misconception.
Thanks for the post, I look forward to dinner tonight!
My parents live on a lake in Northern, Minnesota, so I am familiar with wild rice in the natural form. I have learned more about wild rice cultivation since I originally posted this. I did learn that “cultivated” does not necessarily mean the seed is “scientifically developed.” That can vary from place to place. I definitely want to try “real” wild rice, and will look for it. In the meantime, the Red Lake Reservation is local for me, and I’ve been very happy with it. Thanks very much for your comments, and I hope you enjoy the soup. Sometimes you end up needing to add more water or broth if you rice is particularly “thirsty,” just an FYI. Meg
Do you need to cook the wild rice first? Or does the crockpot do the work?
Hi Kristen: I put the wild rice in and let the crockpot do the work. For people who like their wild rice a little more al dente, you might want to leave it out for the first couple hours. There’s no need to cook the wild rice prior. Great question! Thanks for asking. Meg
Thanks, Terri! This is a favorite for winter. Meg
Do you put the cream in at the end?
Hi Becky, I do put the cream in toward the end, giving it at least half an hour to come up to temp, and to take on the seasoning. I hope you enjoy the soup. Its a fall fave for me.