I’m currently watching the Vice Presidential debate.
Clearly, I need comfort.
Or maybe a shot of whiskey. Perhaps some online shopping. At this point, I’ll take what I can get.
Whiskey and shopping aside, certain foods have the ability to take the edge off. For me, it’s the foods my mom made for us as a kid, a plate of pasta or this, a big bowl of warm, savory soup.
Lucky for me, Washington State is made for soup weather. Our months of gray cloudiness have started. It’s dark when I wake up, and well on its way to darkness when I get home from work.
The fall and winter are really the best seasons for soup not only because of the weather, but because of the produce that’s in season. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, butternut squash, kale and chard are plentiful. Let me tell you something, folks, these are the best building blocks for amazing soups.
This recipe really satisfies as a meal. All the components — the wild rice, spinach, carrots and chicken — will warm you with its heartiness. The first time I made it, I was hooked on the complexity of flavors with the wine and hint of nutmeg. It kicks butt, if I do say so myself.
And for heck’s sake, use a rotisserie chicken in this recipe. Let me stand on my soapbox briefly: I love rotisserie chicken. Yes, I’m a bit choosy about the grocery stores or delis I buy them from, but here’s the deal. They’re usually the same price as an uncooked whole chicken. Only they’re cooked, seasoned and ready for quick and easy shredding for soups, sandwiches, enchiladas…the list is endless. End spiel.
After peeking out from under the blanket watching these politicians take shots at each other, I feel a little better. Thanks to this soup.
Chicken, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup
Makes approximately 5 quarts
1 cup uncooked wild rice (2 cups cooked)
4 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large ribs of celery, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
8 ounces crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
10 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup white wine
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast (I use a rotisserie chicken)
3 large handfuls fresh baby spinach
Cook the wild rice according to package directions and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the butter. When the butter is melted, add the onions and celery and carrots and cook until just softened, 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms and cook, until they’ve browned and shrunk a little bit. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
Add the flour and stir constantly for one minute, coating the vegetables. Stir in the chicken stock, thyme, salt, pepper, nutmeg and red pepper flakes. Raise the temperature to high and bring just to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and let simmer, 10-12 minutes, or until the broth has thickened.
Stir in the half-and-half and white wine. Add the cooked wild rice and shredded chicken. Gently stir in the fresh spinach. It will look like a lot, but it will wilt down quite a bit.
Remove from heat, taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
Depending on my mood, I often add up to double the nutmeg and/or red pepper flakes if I want those flavors to be more noticeable. The measurements in this recipe only provide a hint of those flavors. Taste it first, then add away!