Mushroom & Wild Rice Soup

Rich, Warming and Delicious

Fun fact: Wild rice is actually a grass. And it's an excellent source of plant-based protein.

Together, the two main ingredients of this soup -- wild rice and mushrooms -- provide an incredible dose of health-promoting minerals, as well. More below on what's healthy about this recipe...

Even more fun: The yum factor. This soup features layer upon layer of enticing flavors due to a few key cooking steps and special ingredients:

  • Caramelized carrots and onions add a rich undertone that's simultaneously sweet and savory.
  • The water released by the fresh mushrooms deglazes the soup pot, transferring all that caramelized deliciousness to the broth.
  • Dried porcini mushrooms are a must. They tend to be pricey, but they're so worth it for their depth of flavor. I buy mine online here (this is a very reasonable price per ounce). A little goes a long way and they last in the pantry a long time.
  • Fresh herbs enhance this soup subtly yet appreciably.
  • Stirring in a bit of soy sauce at the end is an unconventional addition that really amplifies the yumminess in a surprisingly complementary way. Shout out to one of my celebrity kitchen gurus, Mark Bittman, for that ingenious tip.

I can't wait to share all of this with you, so without further ado... let's get started!

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • Roughly 1 pound of assorted fresh mushrooms (for example, 6 oz of portobello  mushroom caps, 8 oz cremini mushrooms and 3.5 oz shiitake mushrooms)
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1 quart (4 cups) mushroom broth
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce (or tamari or coconut aminos for a gluten-free option)

Instructions

1. Place ½ cup of dried porcini mushrooms into a heat-proof bowl and cover them with 2 cups of boiling hot water. Set aside for now.

2. Dice the onion, then peel and slice the carrots.

3. In a soup pot (I recommend enameled cast iron if you've got it, because it caramelizes the veggies so nicely), heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots and stir to coat them in the oil. Continue stirring occasionally until soft and browning (caramelizing).

4. While the onions and carrots are cooking, wash and roughly chop your fresh mushrooms.

5. Once the onions and carrots are browning, you'll start to notice a brown build-up forming on the bottom of the soup pot.

This is when you add the mushrooms.

6. Stir to combine. As the mushrooms cook, they will begin to release the water contained inside them. As this happens, continue stirring, and as you do so, be sure to stir all the way to the bottom of the pot. The water from the mushrooms will deglaze the pan (unstick the brown residue left from the caramelization process), and return all that amazing flavor to the broth.

7. Next, add ½ tsp of garlic powder, ½ tsp of seal salt and ½ tsp ground black pepper. Stir to combine.

8. While the mushrooms and veggies continue cooking, rinse and drain the wild rice. 

9. Strain the soaked porcini mushrooms through a mesh strainer into a bowl. Reserve the soaking water -- do not discard it -- because that's going into the pot too, in order to contribute additional delicious flavor to the soup.

10. Use your fingers to transfer the reconstituted porcini mushrooms to a cutting board. Don't just dump the contents of the strainer onto the board, because the strainer may have caught some debris we don't want in the soup.

11. Sort through the porcini mushrooms and cut away any hard, leathery bits. Discard the tough pieces. Chop the soft bits and add them to the soup pot, along with the porcini soaking water.

12. Add 1 quart of mushroom broth to the pot, as well.

13. Turn the heat up to high and bring the soup to a boil. Add the rinsed, drained wild rice to the pot.

14. When the soup returns to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and place the lid on the pot. Simmer the wild rice in the soup for 45 to 50 minutes, or as long as instructed on the wild rice package.

15. While the soup is simmering, rinse a small bunch of fresh thyme.

16. Remove the leaves of thyme from the twigs by holding each sprig at the top with one hand, and running your thumb and index finger of the other hand down the stem, against the direction in which the leaves grow. The thyme leaves should come right off in your fingers.

17. Add the fresh thyme leaves to the soup pot and stir them in.

18. After the soup has simmered for about 50 minutes, give it a taste test (carefully, it'll be hot!) to confirm that the wild rice is cooked to the texture you like. If it still tastes a bit undercooked, simmer it for another 5 minutes and then try again.

19. Turn off the heat. Stir in 1 Tbsp of soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos if you prefer). The soy sauce adds a beautiful complementary flavor to the soup. Don't skip this step!

Serve and enjoy!

What's Healthy About This Recipe?

Mushrooms offer huge flavor with very few calories. They also provide some protein, fiber, and iron, and are known for their anti-inflammatory effect on the body and for their antioxidant content, which means they help repair DNA damage and mitigate the effects of oxidative stress. Mushrooms are also rich in important minerals such as copper, potassium, magnesium, zinc and a number of B vitamins such as folate.

Wild rice is an excellent source of plant-based protein and fiber, and also provides a substantial amount of magnesium, Vitamin B6 and iron.

Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamins A, C and K.  

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