Last weekend we took a short trip to Central Oregon. The weather was rainy and cool, but the company was warm and cheerful, and the resort was lovely. In our wanderings we came upon the High Desert Museum, near the town of Bend. It was an outstanding and expertly curated venue. There were indoor displays, one of which included a gallery of Ansel Adams photos. Beautiful!! And the outdoor walkways led to a stunning landscape of autumn color.This brilliant Maple leaf, sitting on the fence post, seemed to be waiting to be photographed. Sculptures of various species of wildlife were dotted amongst the trees and shrubs, adding to the drama of the scene. This bronze sculpture was my favorite.
Of course all this walking around in the chilly outdoors meant that the meal of choice that day was soup. Inspired by a warm bowl of chicken and wild rice soup, in a small cafe in Bend, I set about to create my version when I got back to my kitchen. I wanted a soup that was full of chicken and rice, with the bonus of bright and colorful vegetables. It had to be brothy, not thick and floury, or too loaded down with cream. This is the result, and I am very pleased. We’ll be enjoying this soup again, along with the memories of a wonderful Oregon weekend.
Chicken, Wild Rice, and Vegetable Soup
- ½ cup wild rice
- 1 cup chicken stock or water
- 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
- ¾ cup medium-diced onion
- ½ cup peeled and diced celery
- ½ cup peeled and diced carrot
- 1 fat garlic clove, minced
- 4 ounces mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ -1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon white, dry Vermouth, or dry sherry
- 2½ cups chicken stock, or good quality purchased chicken broth, plus more to thin the soup, to your taste
- 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken, leftover or from a purchased rotisserie chicken
- ½ cup frozen peas (no need to defrost them)
- 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Cook the wild rice in the stock (or water), with a good pinch of salt, until tender but not mushy. Most of the liquid should be absorbed. Set aside while you prepare the soup.
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and mushrooms, along with a good pinch of salt. Cook the vegetables until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute or so, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the flour and dried herbs and cook an additional minute, stirring frequently. Add 1 cup of water, Vermouth (or Sherry), and the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked rice and the peas and continue to simmer an additional 10 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and simmer to heat thoroughly. Now add the cream and check the seasoning. Add additional broth if the soup is too thick, and season with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately, with crusty bread or crackers. Store any leftovers, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.