Chicken Mushroom Wild Rice Soup
Wholesome Ingredients in a Savory Stock

Chicken Mushroom Wild Rice Soup

This wild rice soup brings together the goodness of wild rice, fresh mushrooms, and tender pieces of chicken in a savory stock.

A mystique surrounds wild rice in part because of its intimate place in the culture of native Americans living within its habitats. Envisioning canoes being carefully poled through rice beds as part of the traditional harvest adds to our perception of its exotic quality.


The Beauty of Wild Rice

Wild rice is a beautiful aquatic plant that thrives in shallow lakes and along the borders of slow-moving streams, especially in certain areas of North America. 

Its abundant growth in areas of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and immediately north in areas of Canada was a bounty of nature that sustained life for the native Americans living there.

The ingenuity of these tribes led to the perfection of harvesting techniques which were implemented by poling canoes through the wild rice beds.

Wild Rice Harvesting Methods Pioneered by the Tribes of the Great Lakes



In her book The Backwoods of Canada, published in 1836, Catherine Parr Traill describes a flowering rice bed as she passes through in her canoe.

“…It has a beautiful appearance with its broad grassy leaves and light waving spikes, garnished with pale yellow green blossoms, delicately shaded with reddish purple, from beneath which fall three elegant straw-colored anthers, which move with every breath of air or slightest motion of the waters.”

Generally speaking, the harvesting and processing of the wild rice was carried out in five phases.

1. Tying - Many tribes began the harvesting process by tying the standing stalks into small bunches using strips of bark. After two or three weeks when the rice had reached the proper maturity, they, usually women, would return to the rice beds to begin gathering the grain.

2. Gathering - Gathering the grain required a team of at least two people in each canoe. One woman was responsible for carefully navigating the canoe through the beds using a forked pole. The other woman would collect the grain by reaching out to catch the bundles, bend them over the canoe, untie the strips of bark, and quickly tap the heads of rice with a specially designed stick releasing only the ready grains.

3. Curing and Drying - Because the wild rice had to be gathered immediately before full maturity when the slightest movement would cause the matured grains to drop into the water, it was necessary that they be artificially ripened by a process of curing and drying.

4. Thrashing  - This step removed the tight-fitting and inedible hulls that protected the grains.

5. Winnowing -  Winnowing used the wind to separate the hulls from the edible seeds.



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Ingredients for Chicken Mushroom Wild Rice Soup



1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon olive oil

1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces                   

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 celery ribs, washed and sliced

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, rinsed and sliced

8 cups chicken stock, homemade preferred (chicken stock recipe)

1 cup long grain and wild rice, uncooked

Freshly ground black pepper

Chives for garnish

Directions for Chicken Mushroom Wild Rice Soup

1. In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil until shimmering.

2. Cook: Add chicken and 1 teaspoon salt; cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove from pan and set aside.

3. Sauté: Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the warm pan. Add celery, onions, and mushrooms; sauté 4-6 minutes or until onions are tender. Stir occasionally.

4. Add: Return chicken to Dutch oven. Add chicken stock and rice.

5. Simmer: Bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 60 minutes.

6. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

7. Garnish: Ladle your delicious wild rice soup into bowls and garnish with chives.

Serves 4-6



As blessed as sighs of gentle joy -- so too is simmering soup...


Bibliography

Jenks, Albert Ernest. The Wild Rice Gatherers of the Upper Lakes A Study in American Primitive Economics. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1901. Document.  Available at: http://www.worldcat.org/title/wild-rice-gatherers-of-the-upper-lakes-a-study-in-american-primitive-economics/oclc/5340437

Smith, Charlene L., and Howard J. Vogel. "The Wild Rice Mystique: Resource Management and American Indians' Rights As A Problem of Law and Culture." William Mitchell Law Review 10, no. 4 (1984). Available at: http://open.wmitchell.edu/wmlr/vol10/iss4/6

Traill, Catherine Parr. The Backwoods of Canada: being letters from the wife of an emigrant officer. London, 1836.

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