Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup.

When my Grandma and Mother both told me soup was easy make I did not believe them.  What I actually didn't believe was that I could make the thick, stew-y soups that I like to eat --- soup that sticks to your bones, unlike thin broth-soups.

I wish I could remember precisely the first soup I made; it was at our first apartment and I called my Mom as soon as I could knew it was a success.  Now every time I make soup I think of my Mom and Grandma and will often call or email them with the success story.

This time around I made Turkey and Wild Rice Soup with Thanksgiving leftovers (because I cook for leftovers!).  I used a recipe I made successfully before, Chicken Wild Rice Soup I, which is delicious, easy and leaves much room for variation -- which is why I love the creativity of cooking more than the science of baking.

It begins with the basics, chopped onion, celery and carrots.  I always increase the amount of veggies in recipes, in this case doubling the aforementioned.  You saute them in butter, a bit more than the recipe calls for because the amount of vegetables has increased.

I love my blue dutch oven!

Then you add the mushrooms, I use the pre-packed, sliced crimini/baby bella mushrooms.  At this point I also added 3 cloves of garlic using a garlic press, which the original recipe does not call for.  Since turkey is not as potent as chicken I wanted to amp up the flavor a bit.

According to the photo I am sauteing at just under medium, which is because I am using a crappy Hotpoint stove that are so prevalent in rentals.  The recipe states you should be at medium heat which would burn the butter in my case.  Use your judgment, or artistic licence as I like to state.

At this point you add the flour to begin your roux, or in other words, the beginning of the thick and creamy.  As you stir in the flour the mixture becomes a gloppy mess.  

Don't fret, you didn't mess up, this is normal.  Now you slowly add the stock, about a cup or two at a time and stir continuously; you will see the gloppiness morph into a smooth, thick texture.  Maintaining a medium-ish heat is important to keep from breaking the roux, causing it to separate.

Once all the stock is stirred in and the consistency is smooth you can add everything else: meat, rice and seasonings -- curry powder, mustard powder, dried parsley, black pepper, slivered almonds and dry sherry.  I have skipped and/or substituted for the almonds and dry sherry but the curry is essential in my opinion.  It is  added in a small amount so as not to scream, "Curry!" but enough to add a distinguishing warmth.  You can amp it up by adding coriander, turmeric and/or cumin but being careful to keep it subtle.  The recipe calls for the addition of half & half at this time; this is truly an option.  I tend to use only one cup or less, if at all, it is not necessary for success in this soup.  I taste it every half hour or so when I stir and add flavor if I feel it's needed.  Below is a photo of the finished rice ready to add to the soup base.

This soup can quietly simmer on the stove for hours.  It is perfect to make on days when you're not sure when anyone will be home but want something warm and comforting when they arrive.  It freezes splendidly. I portion it into individual containers, cover it with plastic wrap (making sure to press the wrap to the surface of the food, removing air pockets which prevents freezer burn) and store in the freezer for work lunches or lazy evenings.

Once the work was done on this dish and clean-up was complete, I called my Mom and chatted for a bit.  There is something comforting about home-cooked soup that makes me miss chilly winter evenings and having family close by.  And seriously, soup is really easy to make.  Listen to you elders, they know.

[Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM]

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