Warming and hearty Chicken & Wild Rice Soup with Potatoes and Mushrooms is the perfect antidote to a chilly (or frigid!) fall day. A copy of Soup Night was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links are used in this post to link to items I am discussing.
Is it just me or did soup season come on with a vengeance? Like piles and piles of snow kind of vengeance. Insanely, after getting like 5 inches of snow–which I know is nothing compared many of you–it is supposed to rain all weekend and be in the 50s. Sigh. I hate mud. But! The good news is, it is still soup weather, and I love soup weather. So bring it on, we will just hunker down and make soup!
This particular soup was inspired by a recipe in Maggie Stuckey’s Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup, which I received (picture head hanging in shame) last winter from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. The book was delayed (or lost in the mail) and then when I did get it, well, life kind of got away from me. But I never forgot about it because when you are speaking soup you are speaking my language. And this cookbook turned out to be a treasure trove of inspiration.
The book has lots of advice on hosting your own neighborhood soup night–which would be loads of fun if we lived in a big enough “neighborhood” to support the idea (or if we lived in a true neighborhood, period). The majority of the recipes are soups of course, but there are some recipes and suggestions for breads, salads and desserts as well. It is divided up by season, and unsurprisingly I found my inspiration in the first place I checked, the Autumn chapter, Wild Rice Clam Chowder.
Ok now you are probably staring at the recipe in confusion, but I find inspiration just about anywhere. I did not have canned clams, but I had chicken and I had hard cider (which I adore with wild rice), so I figured I would start there and see what I could do.
Guys this soup was amazing. I accidentally made more wild rice than I meant to, so the soup you see is probably a bit wild rice heavier than it should be, but I adored every part of this soup. The White Beech Mushrooms (Bunapi Shimeji) and Brown Beech Mushrooms (Buna Shimeji) that I used in the soup were the perfect complement to the wild rice and potatoes. You can sub Crimini mushrooms if you need to, but do take a look for these varieties first–they are often sold in special, breathable cellophane in the organic section. And for the hard cider, whatever you like the taste of is your best bet–for me that is Magners.
- 1 heaping cup uncooked wild rice
- 24 oz hard cider (2 bottles, divided)
- 6 cups chicken stock, divided
- 2 bay leaves
- 6-8 baby redskin potatoes, cut in half or quarters, depending on size
- 1 lb chicken thighs
- 6 T AP flour, divided
- salt and pepper
- 2 T vegetable oil, divided
- 2 T butter, divided
- 1 medium-large onion, chopped
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 t dried thyme or 1 T fresh minced if you have it
- 8-10 oz white and/or brown Beech mushrooms (I used a mix), chopped into bite sized chunks
- 1 cup half-and-half or 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup cream
- 1-2 T fresh lemon juice
- some tender thyme sprigs for garnish, optional
Bring 12 oz (1 bottle) hard cider and 3 cups chicken stock to a boil. Add the wild rice and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Keep an eye on the pot and add water if it looks like it is getting too dry before the wild rice is tender. Turn off the heat when the wild rice is tender, 45-60 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the cut potatoes in another saucepan with the remaining chicken stick and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to maintain a gentle simmer on that pot as well. Keep an eye on the pot and once the potatoes are fork tender, 15-20 minutes, turn off the heat.
In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat 1 tablespoon each of the oil and butter. Whisk some salt and pepper into the flour, and then quickly dredge the chicken thighs in 1/4 cup flour before adding them to the hot pot to brown on both sides, about 6 minutes per side. Then remove them to a bowl.
When the chicken has cooled a bit (you could do this quickly while the onions are browning), quickly chop it into bite sized shreds. Reserve in the bowl.
Add the remaining oil and butter to the pan, and then add the chopped onions with a pinch of salt. Stir. If not enough liquid releases to scrape up any bits of chicken left behind, splash some of the remaining cider into the pot to deglaze. Keep the cider by the cooktop and deglaze with it as needed.
Cook the onions until they are lightly caramelizing, and then add the garlic and thyme. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring.
Add the mushrooms to the pot and stir to incorporate. Add a pinch or 2 of salt, and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes while they cook.
Deglaze the pot with the remaining hard cider and then add the chicken (along with any accumulated juices) back into the pot.At this point, if the potatoes are tender, add a ladle or 2 of their cooking liquid to the pot. If the potatoes are not yet tender, carefully just add them--potatoes and cooking liquid--into the larger pot with the chicken. Either way, bring to a boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer to braise the chicken.
When the chicken is cooked through, hopefully the potatoes and wild rice will each be done also--if not, just turn the heat way down on whatever is cooked while everything catches up.
Add the wild rice, including its cooking liquid, to the pot with the potatoes and chicken.
Whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons flour into half of the half-and-half (or half of the milk/cream mixture). Slowly add this paste to the soup, whisking to avoid lumping. Then add the remaining half-and-half with the lemon juice. Heat until it is piping hot, stirring occasionally, but do not return to a boil.
Taste for salt, pepper or lemon juice. Remove the bay leaves. Garnish with tender thyme sprigs if desired.
For the collage lovers: