Friday, February 22, 2013

Wild Mushroom & Wild Rice Chicken Soup

Last Year's Post: Very Lemon Chicken and Fruited Couscous

It's Still Soup Weather
I saw a picture for a wild rice chicken soup recipe a while back that intrigued me because it was broth based, not cream based.  I like cream soups as much as anyone but they're not the healthiest option, so I used that recipe as inspiration for creating my own.  The challenge I gave myself was to create a deeply flavorful, earthy and nutty soup minus the cream that is substantial and satisfying enough for dinner with some French bread.  After discussions with The Lawyer and a co-worker (thank you Nancy P!) I decided the key ingredients would be wild mushrooms, wild rice, fresh thyme, leek, shredded chicken, and a combination of chicken and beef broth.  The beef broth turned out to be key because it darkens the color and adds richness to the flavor of the soup.  No pale broth here!

I was really pleased with the results.  The soup is healthy yet very satisfying, and it was the perfect solution for Sunday dinner when we had gone out to a fancy restaurant the night before for a birthday celebration and over-indulged.

The original recipe was featured in an article on different ways to use rotisserie chicken, which is why the chicken was precooked and shredded as opposed to being cooked in the soup.  I liked the concept of shredded versus cubed chicken, plus it makes the soup really fast to prepare.  You can buy a rotisserie chicken or roast a chicken breast in advance.  The salad bar at my local store carries shredded roast chicken which was the easiest option of all.

The other advance prep work is to cook the wild rice.  After those two steps, the soup only takes about 30 minutes to prepare.  (I thought about cooking the wild rice in the broth itself, but was concerned that it would turn into wild rice broth and become overwhelming.)

I decided to use a combination of cremini and shiitake mushrooms, but you could also add portobellos if you like.  I read somewhere that you're supposed to scrape out the dark gills on portobellos so they don't turn your broth muddy, and that seemed like too much work.

It really does seem like a lot of mushrooms, especially after they're sliced, but they do shrink a lot when they cook and they are a key ingredient.

I always use low-sodium products including the chicken and beef broth here, so I ended up adding a teaspoon of salt to the broth.  Different packages of broth vary widely in their sodium levels, so be sure to check the label so you have a general idea before adding any salt to the recipe at all.  Always taste and adjust seasonings in small increments.

I really hope you try this recipe, because I'm pretty proud of it.  Dorky, but true.

click here for a printable recipe

Wild Mushroom & Wild Rice Chicken Soup
Serves 6

¾ cup uncooked wild rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
16 oz baby bella (cremini) mushrooms
3.5 oz shiitake mushrooms
1 leek, white and light green parts cleaned and thinly sliced
¼ cup Madeira or Marsala
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups low-sodium beef broth
Pinch garlic powder
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ -1 teaspoon salt (start with the lower amount and adjust to taste)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 cups roast chicken, shredded
Snipped chives (optional)

Rinse the wild rice thoroughly and place in a medium saucepan with 4 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.  Drain and set aside. 

Clean the mushrooms and remove stems, then slice thinly.  Heat oil and butter in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and stir to coat.  Cook 2 minutes, then add the leeks and sprinkle the vegetables lightly with salt. Cook and stir 3 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and let vegetables sweat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms darken and their juices have cooked off.  Add the Madeira and cook until evaporated, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. 

Add the beef stock and chicken stock to the saucepan.  Add garlic powder, pepper, ½ teaspoon salt and herbs and stir.  Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a gentle boil.  Add rice and chicken; stir and heat through.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Serve garnished with snipped chives (optional).

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