Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A fragrant bowl of wild rice

Digging around in the pantry these last few weeks has been quite enjoyable. A jar of wild rice – long sleek grains of black and chocolate brown – and a packet of dried porcini were unearthed this weekend. Soup season may have dug its heels firmly in this week, but I’m nowhere near done with it. Not while the celeriac looks this good, anyway.

Clean is Deborah Madison’s typically spare description of this soup and she is, typically, spot on. Clean, as a descriptor, may not seal the deal on recipes ordinarily, but by this stage of winter I find myself longing for something lighter. There’s been a lot of stodge eaten in these parts of late. So this beautiful and yes, clean, balance of warm, wintry earthiness and toothsome, lightly-cooked vegetables seemed to say all the right things. A cloudy, fragrant stock from simmering wild rice and dried mushrooms together; a little soothing creaminess stirred through at the last moment and I served it with a little saucer of amber sesame oil to dribble, at will, across the surface.

The recipe below is the result of gleaning a little from each of Deborah Madison’s wild rice chowders, some streamlining from experience and a small bottle of organic, unhomogenised cream from Tasmania. I must say, I quite like the photos for this one. They say, to me, exactly what I wanted them to. Fresh, clean, healthy. With cream.

It is excellent. A timely reminder that spring, and change, are not too far away.

A wild rice and celeriac soup – feeds 4
Wild rice smells intoxicatingly good as it cooks. Too often that scent is lost in and amongst other grains. Not here. Here, it is star. Attention paid to the quality and flavour of your soy milk will make all the difference if cream is not your thing. Adapted, heavily, from Deborah Madison.

3 handfuls of wild rice (about ¾ cup)
1 handful of dried mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, etc)
Toasted sesame oil
6 cups of water
Sea salt
3 tablespoons of olive oil (or a mixture of butter and oil)
1 large bundle of spring onions
1 bunch of parsley
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
1 fist-sized potato, scrubbed well
1 small celeriac
1 bay leaf
A few healthy sprigs of thyme
½ cup soy milk or thin cream

Place the wild rice in a saucepan, add the mushrooms, a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil and the water. Bring to a boil, add ½ a teaspoon of sea salt and reduce the heat to a burble. Set a lid, slightly ajar, on top and simmer for 40 minutes. When ready – the grains will butterfly open, bursting from their skins – set a strainer over a large bowl to collect the rice stock and drain. Set both stock and rice aside separately.

Warm the olive oil in a wide saucepan over a gentle heat. Trim the spring onions and chop finely. Slice the parsley leaves from their stalks, reserving the leaves. Finely chop the stalks. Add the spring onions and parsley stalks to the saucepan and cook while you chop the remaining veg. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Cut the carrots into thick slices and then into large irregular shapes. Trim and slice the celery stalks. Cut the potato into large dice then thickly peel the celeriac and cut it too into large dice. Add the vegetables to the saucepan, up the heat and fry for about 3 minutes. Throw in the bay leaf and thyme and pour in the reserved rice stock along with another cup, perhaps a little more, of water. Bring to a boil, add 1½ teaspoons of salt then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Chop the remaining parsley leaves. Add the soy milk or cream to the soup, remove the bay leaf and tip in the rice and mushrooms and most of the parsley leaves. Warm through and serve in deep bowls, each garnished with a little parsley, lots of pepper and a few droplets of toasted sesame oil to round things off nicely.


Another Outspoken Female said...

Nice pics and what an interesting, fragrant soup (I'm sure I can smell it from here!). I'm thinking coconut milk (or 50:50 coconut and vegetable stock) to get rid of the moo juice. Do you think that would work?

Lucy said...

Reckon the 50:50 ratio would work quite well, AOF. It needs to be a gentle sort of creamy backdrop for the vegetables to shine. Man, how good does wild rice smells as it cooks? Will never, ever 'dilute' it again.

Simona said...

Lovely, Lucy, as usual. I am more often than not scared of looking too closely at what I have in my cupboards, but you are right, it can be quite enjoyable and inspiring.

Callipygia said...

If the wild rice and cream doesn't get the heart skipping a little erratically, then those bowls surely will.

Johanna said...

a soup to clense both body and pantry - excellent!

Anh said...

Clean and hearty soup. Yum! I love it, especially in this flu weather.... I just cannot believe that I am down with a terrible cold just before my trip. But well, I will be dancing with joy in a warmer climate soon!!

Holler said...

Mmmm, this is the dish for me Lucy :)

Nora B. said...

Hi Lucy,
When you put together fresh, clean, healthy, I won't feel bad about having some cream, esp the Tasmanian one that you had. I haven't had wild rice for ages....and now I want some.

Hmmm, although I complain about the cold all the time, I'm still not quite over winter cooking, but also longing for spring.

x Nora

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Yum, yum, yum...haven't eaten wild rice in an age and I love it, thanks for reminding me.

It's been a while, but I've been catching up on your posts. All as wonderful as ever. I missed you and am happy to have conquered my feed reader again.

Wendy said...

Beautiful soup and beautiful pictures. I have red rice in my cupboard. Am going to try a variation of this very soon. :)

Cynthia said...

You entice with what is in the bowl as well as the bowl itself.

Anonymous said...

Lucy, this sounds really good. I've actually never cooked with wild rice, but I'm certainly intrigued. You've made it sound so incredible.

The Yummy Mummy said...

So funny, Lucy, I forgot it was winter there. I'm such a dork.

Well, your writing is feathery light and a little like sun dancing on leaf tops, if that is any consolation.

I'm tagging this recipe for our up-coming autumn. It sounds like the perfect soup for one of those first chilling evenings, when summer is still a close memory.


Sylvia said...

I haven't had wild rice for ages....
I just remained the smell, and make me crave-
Beautiful bowl as well

Ran said...

its strange that i am thinking of spring but it snowed at my place in the hills on the weekend! The winter stodge is great but it can wear thin. I keep eyeing off the asparagus at the green grocer but am waiting for it to be local and in season before i start playing with spring time meals.
this meal looks great though.

Lisa said...

I always have wild rice and dried mushrooms on hand. Indeed, most of the ingredients here are staples in my kitchen. A must try.

Courtney Paige said...

Hi - new to your blog, and I am very inspired to try this soup. It looks delicious! What is celeriac? Does it have a different name in the USA? I have never heard of it. . (maybe I am out of touch with my vegetables, hmmmm.)

Lucy said...

Thanks everyone - glad wild rice is an ingredient so many of you love.

Johanna - couldn't have put it better myself!

Anh - look after that cold. Awful flying with a head cold.

Mari - I wish I could conquer my feedreader!! Well done to you!

Kim - well, winter is nearly spring here anyway. When are you coming back to these shores, darls?

Hi Ran - the light is just brighter and I think that's why we're all thinking of spring. That and the blossom trees going mad all over place. Snow...hope you took photos!

Hi Courteny Paige and a warm welcome to you. It's called celery root in the US, but the rest of us know it as celeriac. Generally available in cooler seasons and the knobbliest, ugliest thing you'll ever see. Tastes divine though.

Telephone Triage said...

I have never had wild rice...but this recipe looks so very enticing have to try it now.

Nick Soma said...

Wow, I think this will be a delicious one if I will gonna try this at home.