by the handful

Nutritious culinary and healing recipes collected from the North American garden, orchard, forest, river and ocean

Wild Rice & Mushroom Chicken Soup

There is a variety of wild rice native to North America and of course a whole bunch of mushrooms too. You may have noticed that common wild rice mixes usually have a minimal amount of this really long dark brown rice included in them. Well, that is our native rice. It’s delicious, chewy and adds a great texture to soups. Might as well mention it is also high in folate, antioxidants, protein, and several minerals. This rice was a staple of the Native american diet and it is still available today as it is cultivated along side other rice varieties. However, the Sioux tribes of Minnesota still harvest it from wild areas. Any wild rice mix will work just fine but I really prefer using a wild ingredient whenever possible.

I like to use crimini mushrooms matched with one wild variety if I can find one. For those interested in foraging: in the spring a good one is the yellowfoot mushroom and in the fall the chanterelle.  The yellowfoot mushroom is very widespread and found in northern conifer forests, mostly near rotting wood. It has a large northern range worldwide but it only extends about as far south as Northern California. The yellowfoot (winter chanterelle) is almost always found in bundles. Its bright yellow stem and unmistakable “false” gills make it very easy to identify but, as always with mushrooms, be certain you know for sure. Foraging for mushrooms is not for everyone, but that’s no problem as any mushroom combination found at the local grocery store will do just fine in this soup.

Wild onion is either in your yard or it’s not and it’s pretty invasive so hopefully it is not. However, it should make you feel a little better about coexisting with it if you are able to make use of it in cooking. It grows in little bundles and looks like chives and once it’s there it’s not leaving anytime soon.

Cooking chicken with the skin and bone intact helps thicken the soup and adds vital flavor (it makes soup legit!). This recipe makes a thick hearty soup that is not as rich as is typical of the kind you would appreciate in the winter but rather fresh enough for early spring.

Wild Rice / Wild Mushroom Chicken Soup

 2 lbs bone-in, skin-on mixed chicken thighs and drumsticks

 1 cup wild rice

 3 cups chicken stock

 1 lb mixed fresh mushrooms

 3 carrots chopped

 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

 4 garlic cloves minced

 rice flour

 bay leaf

 fresh tyme

 fresh oregano

 clarified butter

 salt

 wild onion or chives minced

 Add 1 tbsp clarified butter to a dutch oven and melt at med-high heat. Salt chicken pieces liberally and add to dutch oven. Make sure to shake the pot so the pieces do not stick and lower heat if needed. Flip and brown on second side. Remove chicken from pot and set aside when the skin is nice brown n’ crispy. Note: the chicken will not be completely cooked through at this point.

Add chopped red onion and reduce heat to med-low and saute until it begins to carmelize. Add minced garlic and wild rice, cook a few minutes more before nestling chicken thighs in middle of pot and drumsticks around the perimeter. Note: Your recipe should smell really good right about now.

Add 3 cups of chicken stock, 3 cups of water and the chopped carrots to the pot. Tie 2 sprigs of oregano and 4 sprigs of thyme together with some butcher twine and add to pot along with bay leaf.

Bring pot to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 45 minutes before removing chicken pieces and setting aside to cool. It helps them cool faster by breaking them apart a little to allow the heat to escape. Add chopped fresh mushrooms and cover pot continuing to cook for 5 minutes more.

When chicken is cool enough to work with, remove and separate the meat from the skin and bone. Remove herbs and bay leaf from pot.

Add 3 tbsp rice flour to 4 tbsp water in a small bowl and mix well, then remove lid from the pot and drizzle in the rice mix, stirring. Add chicken meat back to the pot and let sit for a few minutes before removing pot from heat.

Allow to cool, taste and adjust seasoning as desired, add miced wild onion as a garnish and serve in bowls.

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