For those of us raised in Minnesota, classic Cream of Wild Rice Soup is the ultimate comfort food. Earthy from the rice, hearty from the meat, healthy from the vegetables, soothing from the cream, and warming because it is a bowl of homemade soup. This modern version isn't thickened with flour and uses less ham and cream than traditional versions, keeping it a bit lighter – all the better to enjoy a second bowlful!
The thyme isn't traditional or necessary either, but it sure is tasty if you happen to have some around.
Note that traditionally this soup has ham in it. It is just as tasty without it, though, so feel free to leave it out if you like.
While usually made with chicken, this soup is also an excellent way to use leftover turkey.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 3/4 cup wild rice (or 2 to 3 cups cooked or leftover wild rice)
- 1 Tablespoon fine sea salt
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 3 ounces ham, bacon, or pancetta (optional)
- 2 medium leeks or small onions, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 5 cups chicken, turkey, or vegetable broth
- 1 to 2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken or turkey
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
- 1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream
- Sea salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper for garnish
- Bring 4 to 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the wild rice and salt. Cook until the wild rice is tender to the bite, about 30 minutes. Drain and set the rice aside.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the ham, bacon, or pancetta to the pot if using. Cook, stirring now and again, until the meat is sizzling, some of its fat has rendered, and it is just barely starting to darken on the edges, about 2 minutes.
- Add the leeks or onions, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften, about 3 minutes.
- Add the broth, chicken, thyme sprigs is using, and reserved wild rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook to allow flavors to blend, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs.
- Stir in the cream (the more you use, the creamier it will be!) and bring back to a simmer. Add salt to taste. Serve hot with a grinding or two of black pepper on top.
Make Ahead Tip: You can make the soup ahead up through Step 4. Cover and chill for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months. Defrost, if necessary, and reheat gently. Add cream at that point. Cream is more stable than milk, but it still has a tendency to separate when frozen and reheated.