We are in the depths of the winter here in Minnesota, and it is the best time of year for hearty, soul-enriching soups. Minnesota-style wild rice soup is like your grandma’s hugs in a bowl, essentially a big bowl of gravy so thick your spoon stands up in it. This version is likewise super-thick and super-satisfying, and seems like something you shouldn’t be eating as part of a Healthful Living Practice. This one, though, is whole-foods, plant-based, with no added oil, and is richly creamy and delicious. Eat all you like! The recipe makes a lot, about 6 quarts, so feel free to halve it if you like. But we polished this off in just a couple of days and can’t wait to make more. Uff da!
There is a lot of wild rice in this soup, and I like it that way. You could cut the amount by half and it would still be wild rice soup. But unless you object to the wondrous texture and flavor of wild rice, use it all. To me, that’s the whole point of wild rice soup. Wild rice is native to Minnesota and is available here at a few different price points, from truly wild rice that is hand-harvested by Native families from Minnesota Lakes at the top ($12-$20 per pound) down to farmed rice from other places ($1.50 to $5 per pound). I think most places you will have to take what you can get locally. You will want to pick the grains over for debris and rinse them thoroughly before cooking.
We are bean snobs here in the Alexander household. We do use canned beans for some things (soup or chili sometimes, hummus most of the time, dog food all of the time). And they are FINE. No judgment about your preferences on beans.
We purchase dried beans from a small operation in southern California called Rancho Gordo (ranchogordo.com) and I cannot strongly enough recommend their beans. Owner Steve Sando knows more about cooking beans than just about anyone on the planet, and he’s funny as the dickens. For this recipe, my preference is the bean variety Steve calls Ojo de Cabra, or Eye of the Goat. These beans get reddish when you cook them (see the photo of the soup) and are large with a thinner skin, but hold together really well in soups and stews. We rinse and cook them in a programmable pressure cooker for 50 minutes, 1 pound of beans to 5 cups of water. No soaking! Add a bay leaf or two if you like. These beans have a great flavor on their own.
If you don’t want to cook your own beans, hey, no problem! Use two or three cans of no-salt-added kidney beans, liquid and all, instead. You could use Cannellini beans, but because they have a thin skin they will break apart more easily than kidney beans.
Leftovers will keep in the fridge for several days. Unlike Nana’s recipe, there is no cream to break, so I think it would freeze and only need to be mixed after thawing. It was so good that we didn’t have any to put in the freezer to see what would happen.
Rinse, pick, and cook the wild rice. See notes section, below, for instructions if needed.
Heat a dry, heavy-bottomed soup pot on medium-low heat for several minutes. Put the onions and carrots into the hot pan and let them sit without stirring for about 2-3 minutes just to sear them (get a little brown on the bottom), but being careful not to burn them. Add the mushrooms, and mix the vegetables continuously until the mushrooms begin to lose their water. Tip: A tiny sprinkle of salt or Bragg Liquid Aminos will help the water come out of the mushrooms, but if you don’t want to do this, you may want to add a little water or broth to the pan to keep the vegetables from sticking.
As the mushrooms begin to get wet and soften, mix in the garlic, wild rice, plant milk, and water or broth to not quite cover the solid ingredients. Let the soup come to a simmer (not to a full boil) over low heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot occasionally.
While the soup is heating, place the rice flour, nooch, and herbs into a blender, small food processor, or clean coffee/spice mill and pulse until they are powdered. This step is important because commercial rice flour is typically not fine enough to serve the purpose of creating a thick gravy without any graininess. But if you powder it first, it is amazing for this purpose. Tip: If you have a Vitamix or Blend-Tec blender, you can use it to turn uncooked brown rice into flour. Other blenders, even those marked as high-powered, will not grind hard grains into flour.
As the soup comes to a simmer, sprinkle the flour and herb mixture into it, and then the beans, stirring constantly. Tip: This mixture will not clump up the way that corn-starch would, so you can mix the dry ingredients in to the wet directly. Continue to stir as the soup thickens.
Season the soup with Bragg Liquid Aminos and fresh-ground black pepper. If you want more salt, add it to individual servings rather than the batch. You will use much less salt that way.
The soup is ready! Serve it alongside a fresh, green salad or piles of steamed greens. I mixed mine right into a bowl packed with chopped curly green kale.
Preparing wild rice – If you have a programmable pressure cooker, put the 3 cups of wild rice into the cooker with 5 cups water or vegetable broth. Use multigrain setting for 15 minutes and quick release. Otherwise, you can cook it on the stove top using 4 cups of water or broth for every 1 cup of wild rice. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer, and cover. Cook for about 40 to 50 minutes, until the grains soften and split open. Dran away any excess liquid (you can use it in the soup, if you prefer).
Preparing oat milk – I made my own oat milk for this recipe, and it worked well. Use thick-rolled or old-fashioned oats, not quick oats. Soak one cup of oats in 4 cups of water for about 15 minutes. Pour the oats into a sieve, discarding the soaking water. Rinse the oats thoroughly under running water, mixing them up with a spoon or your fingers. Place the oats into a blender with about 3 cups of clean water. Blend for about two minutes; not enough for the mixture to warm up. Drain the liquid through a sieve, cheesecloth, or clean tea towel into a container. Clean your filter, and run the liquid through it again. Do this at least three times, and four if you have time. Bring the remaining liquid (you should have about three cups) up to 4 cups by mixing in water. Your oat milk is now ready to use in your soup (or for whatever you want).