September 9, 2012

Chicken Wild Rice Soup #2

Posted by Ethne~

Shaun and I LOVE to cook together, and it’s that time of year when we are in the MOOD for…SOUP!  Heads out of the gutter, my Friends!  Actually, it’s a few weeks early for soup since we still love to grill, but it’s been a bit cool and rainy, and we usually start the soup season with chili along with Vikings football season, but Shaun made a HUGE batch of WILD RICE (Minnesota specialty) the other day, so we thought, what would be better this weekend than CREAMY CHICKEN WILD RICE SOUP.  And boy, was it DALISH.  Do you like my shouty capitals?

Shaun and I here on our honeymoon - and as a bridesmaid at Lori and Steve's wedding - our weddings were only 3 weeks apart!

I had to do our monthly major grocery run this weekend (and FYI, I saved $39 with coupons and in-store specials and my Target RedCard), so I purchased the rest of what I’d need.  We made up the recipe, but since it was awesome, here’s what you should get:

2-3 chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
2-4 cups cooked wild rice (we had 4, so we used it all)
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 cup carrots (diced, or I purchased the pre-shredded bag – GENIUS!)
2T butter and 2T olive oil
1 quart half & half
4-6 cups water (if you have chicken stock or bouillon, you can use that, but we didn’t, and trust me, you might not want to mess with success)
2 heaping T of corn starch for thickening
Salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and celery salt, to taste

The first thing we did was cook the wild rice in advance, like I said.  It originally was 1-1/2 cups of dry rice (really seeds), and then cooked with plenty of water for at least an hour.  We like the rice to pop open and be really tender so we cook it longer than the directions say, and then watch and make sure it doesn’t run out of water.  Add a little salt to the water while you cook it.  The reason we had so much rice in the end is because we let it get so fluffy.

Next I sautéed my veggies in the mix of butter and olive oil until they were tender.  I added salt and pepper.  Man do I love this part.  There is no smell better than veggies cooking in butter.  Ok, maybe besides the smell of a newborn baby.  So scratch that.  There is no better KITCHEN smell than veggies cooking in butter.

Heavenly smell

When the veggies were tender but not mush, I added the chicken cubes right into the pot.  Some people might get riled up over mixing the raw meat into my cooked veg, but I was planning on cooking this all till it was well done, so there is no risk of salmonella here, folks.  I wouldn’t recommend this method if you are not going to make a soup and boil & bubble the ingredients for a long time to cook everything well through.

Shaun did the chicken dicing for me.  Rock on.
Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble...  [see below]

Once the chicken was cooked all the way through (just cut a piece open and check), we added the wild rice and water.  We allowed this to come to a boil then turned the mix down to a simmer (just a very light bubbling boil) and let it do it’s thing for a little while. 

I stir every few minutes because I give it a taste once it’s simmered for about 15 minutes and then start adding some seasonings.  First salt & pepper.  That gave it great flavor, but it needed a little more than that.  We discovered that we don’t have some season-all in our cupboard, so we pulled out celery salt and poultry seasoning and gave that a whirl.  We let it all bubble a while longer and tasted again – I’m thinking another 10 minutes.

I was feeling satisfied that we were close to the finish line, so we added the cream.  I’m always careful not to add my dairy products to soups until near the end because I’ve had milk and cream curdle in soup before from overheating.  The flavor isn’t ruined, but it’s disconcerting.  I never bring to high heat, just a simmering boil, and I stir pretty frequently.

Creamy, but not thickened

During this time, I tasted the soup.  The half & half obviously watered the flavor down, so we needed to add some more of our seasonings – not too much – until we were satisfied again.

While I was on stir-breaks, I mixed my 2 T of corn starch with about ¼ cup of water.  It’ll seem like too little water, but it’ll eventually all mix together.  Once the soup is simmering, add the mixed-up cornstarch and stir in, WITHOUT STOPPING SO YOU DON’T GET CLUMPS, until your soup thickens.

Here is pre-thickening

Done.  It was SOOOO good.  The girls ate really well.  Shaun had seconds, which is always my gauge of an extra-tasty meal, and Theodore sat in his chair next to me, sniffing the air.  Sweet Baby T-Rex.

Now it's thickened, see the difference?
KD approves
Easy Mac likes (though you can't tell from this look)
Theodore wishes
Theodore sniffs
Theodore tries - and then he has to get down.

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