Thursday, February 14, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

It can be tricky to put together a meatless meal that doesn't skimp on the flavor. In this recipe, a pinch of baking soda helps the wild rice to "brown" as it cooks, producing a rich stock with many of the same flavors you'd find from a more carnivorous dish. Starch and heavy cream make up for the satisfying body that soups and stews get from the gelatin in meat. This soup freezes well, so make extra to put away for later in Lent.

The dried shiitakes can be found at most grocery stores, but will be least expensive at an Asian grocery.

Serves six to eight.
(Source: Cook's Illustrated January & February 2013)
  • ¼ ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 4¼ cups water, divided
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cloves garlic, one peeled, four peeled and minced
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 1 pound cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup dry sherry
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup minced fresh chives
  • ¼ tsp grated lemon zest
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375º. Grind dried mushrooms in a spice grinder (you should have about 3 tablespoons).

Bring 4 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, whole garlic clove, ¾ tsp salt, and baking soda to boil in an oven-proof saucepan or metal roaster over high heat. Add rice and return to boil. Cover pan, transfer to oven, and bake until rice is tender, 35–50 minutes. Strain rice, reserving liquid. Discard herbs and garlic. Add enough water to reserved liquid to equal 3 cups.

Melt butter in a stockpot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, minced garlic, tomato paste, ¾ tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Cook until vegetables are browned and dark fond develops on bottom of pot, 15 minutes. Add sherry and scrape up any browned bits; cook until pot is almost dry, about 2 minutes. Add ground mushrooms, reserved liquid, broth, and soy sauce, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until onion and mushrooms are tender, about 20 minutes.

Whisk cornstarch and remaining ¼ water in small bowl. Stir mixture into soup, return to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in cooked rice, cream, chives, and lemon zest. Salt and pepper to taste.

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