Monday, October 19, 2009

Where the Wild Rice Are

Alongside my tall cookbooks, I keep a binder of recipes collected from newspapers, magazines, and blogs. I cut them out and print them with the best of intentions, but never get around to using most of them. A few recipes, though, have introduced me to new ingredients and ways of cooking, and steadily become regulars in my rotation. This week, I want to share with you the highlights of my blue binder.

I rarely buy food magazines (I already own so many neglected cookbooks), but a few years ago I splurged when a pecan-oatmeal pie sang to me from the cover of the Cooking Light Thanksgiving issue. That pie recipe alone was worth $4.95 (I haven't yet attempted to make it vegan or gluten-free), but the issue included other winners. This Wild Rice and Leek Soup supplanted potato leek soup in my repertoire; I make it five or six times each winter.

Over the years I've altered the recipe slightly, but not so much that I feel justified in reposting it here. Instead of cooking spray, I use a tablespoon of Earth Balance margarine. I substitute vegetable broth for chicken, use whatever potatoes I have on hand, and add a ton of black pepper. When I was vegetarian, I included the 1/4 cup of whipping cream at the end; now I just leave it out. You could substitute soy cream, but all you're adding is fat without flavor, and the soup doesn't need it.

Through this recipe I became familiar with wild rice, which isn't rice at all, but the seed of a water grass species native to the north central United States. Though it is usually combined with other grains in pre-mixed pilaf, the rich, mushroomy flavor and chewy texture of wild rice deserve showcasing on their own. Dried wild rice can be expensive, but it triples in volume when cooked, so a little goes a long way.

Now through Thanksgiving, Maine farmers harvest massive leeks, twice the size of any I've seen in grocery stores. One leek, sliced, gives me almost the three cups called for in this recipe. Earthy, understated thyme is a perfect match for wild rice and sweet, pungent leeks. Use fresh herbs if you have them, but 1 teaspoon of dried thyme works well in this soup.

This recipe for Wild Rice and Leek Soup is one of my all-time favorites; I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

7 comments:

  1. Yum! And isn't it funny how you always cut out recipes and keep them, never make them, and then complain that you don't know what to make for dinner! :)

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  2. what an adorable post title! i'm seeing the movie tonight! i'll watch out for leeks at the wild rumpus. ;)

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  3. And how was your canning class?

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  4. I love wild rice! This looks so delicious, what beautiful pictures.

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  5. I've never cooked anything with wild rice or leeks before. I need to give them a try, I think I'll like this soup. Yours looks amazing!

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  6. That soup looks wonderful. Also, my daughter sits on a copy of that 1000 Vegetarian Recipes book seen in the topmost photo so she can reach the table for dinner.

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  7. This sounds deliciously earthy! I'm definitely going to have to try this, and might even toss in a red or Yukon Gold spud (more earthiness!) and see how that goes. Leeks are entertaining to buy, they're one of the (many, sadly) produce items that make most check-out clerks hold them up and look at me quizzically, wondering what they are! (PS I have one of those binders too! Mine's green and stuffed full to bustin'.) :-)

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