Take That, Snow!

Snow, snow, and more snow. Tis the season, I suppose, and in all fairness this has been a not-terrible winter. While I guarantee I will still whine and complain about the waiting-for-the-snow-plow-to-unbury-my-street and digging-out-my-car parts, it is nice to have a Sunday’s-worth of plans canceled in favor of a few cooking/baking projects to basically say “Take that, snow!” (after, of course, an emergency trip to the grocery store since I was out of eggs. And milk. And sugar. All set on bread though!).

Mushroom wild rice soup

After making a veritable cauldron of roasted beef stock, I was looking to put it to good use–something other than beef barley (want to guess what I forgot to put on my list for that emergency grocery run?). Beef goes well with mushrooms, and maybe…some wild rice? Sounded good to me.

Perfect wild riceMushrooms, onions, and other goodies

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a subscription on America’s Test Kitchen online recipe archive, so I’ve been on a bit of an ATK bender since the new year. Lucky me, one of the recipes in their archives was wild rice and mushroom soup, and easy enough to use beef broth instead of chicken. And since I had a bunch of beef cooked and shredded in bits and pieces left over from making stock, it went into the soup as well.

Cooked downMarbled soup

Well, if I can’t beat the weather (I did try!), I may as well embrace it, and this soup was basically a bowl of snow day winter coziness. Stick-to-your-ribs from the wild rice, beef, and mushrooms; a little bit bright with the lemon and chives; rich and creamy (but not so rich that you can’t have a second helping–we’re embracing winter after all, right?).

Bonus–it went perfectly with that monster loaf of rye bread.

Marbled cream

Wild Rice, Mushroom, and Beef Soup

Slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. If you don’t have cooked beef handy, you can leave it out, the soup is still plenty filling with the mushrooms and rice. If you want to make this vegetarian–and it would be a great, hearty, vegetarian meal–simply use vegetable broth instead.

4 1/4 cups water
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, peeled, plus 4 cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup wild rice

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound mushrooms (white or brown), trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2/3 cup dry sherry
1/4 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed and ground in a spice grinder (or 3 tablespoons ground porcini)
4 cups low-sodium beef broth (chicken or vegetable broth can also be used)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1-2 cups beef, cubed and cooked (optional)1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In medium oven-safe saucepan, bring 4 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, whole garlic clove, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and baking soda to a boil. Add rice and return to a boil. Cover saucepan, transfer to the oven, and bake until the rice is tender, 35 to 50 minutes. Strain rice through a fine-mesh strainer set over a 4-cup liquid measuring cup; discard thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Add enough water to reserved cooking liquid to measure 3 cups.

Melt butter in a large, heavy soup pot oven over high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, minced garlic, tomato paste, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned and a dark (but not burnt!) crust develops on the bottom of pot, about 15 minutes. Add sherry, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon, and cook until reduced and pot is almost dry, about 2 minutes. Add reserved rice cooking liquid, ground mushroom powder, broth, and soy sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until onion and mushrooms are tender, about 15 minutes. Add beef, if using, and simmer 5 more minutes.

Whisk cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup water in small bowl. Stir cornstarch slurry into soup, return to a simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in cooked rice, cream, chives, and lemon zest. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

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