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  • Mary Kay

Wild Rice from Casserole to Soup

Taking Gram's delicious wild rice casserole to a savory soup.

Every time I make this soup, I think of Gram. One of the best smelling oven meals she made was the wild rice casserole she would bake in a big blue metal casserole pan and she would make every Fall, mainly for family get togethers like Thanksgiving Day. It's a recipe for big crowds. As with her casserole, I have not always added all of the same items, concentrating on what's actually in my fridge. Though, I do use it as a base for my soup. And, that's what I've done with the Wild Rice Soup I'll show you in a minute.

First she would fry up bacon and sausage from the freezer (there was a huge freezer on the farmhouse back porch filled to the brim with frozen hunks of pork, beef and chickens that she could choose from for family meals), along with onions and celery. Then she would add a can of mushroom soup and one of celery soup.. Those were the only two shortcuts I ever saw her make when baking her special casseroles, so I have a feeling this recipe came from a neighboring farm friend. Lastly she would add that delicious wild rice and bake it in her gas oven on the farm. The wild rice casserole would bake in the oven, spreading wonderful aromas around the house.

One thing she taught me was not to be afraid of trying something different or changing recipes. She said that as long as I didn't burn it, it would mostly likely be edible. I think she was mostly right because I've very seldom thrown out anything that I concocted or created on the stove or in the oven.

This time her wild rice casserole inspired me to make wild rice from scratch. It's actually easier than I thought it would be, with the longest amount of time spend on cooking the wild rice. You see, white rice doesn't take that long to cook on the top of the stove, but wild rice can take quite a bit longer. My recipe contains items that I normally have in the refrigerator or freezer such as fresh vegetable, milk and sausage and bacon. I always have sausage in the freezer in case I'm in the mood to make a pizza, and Doug usually has bacon in the fridge for adding to his green beans with onions or spinach salad, a BLT, etc.

Prepare the pan:

Get out a good stock pot or large saucepan for heating on medium heat on the stovetop.

Make the soup:

1/2 C Wild Rice

2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 T Butter

1 Italian sausage, cut up

2 Bacon slices, cut up

2 Celery stalks, diced

1/2 Onion, medium, diced

1 Carrot, large, diced

1/2 # Mushrooms, diced

2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 t Bay seasoning

1-2 Bay leaves

1/2 C Milk or heavy cream

First of all, keep in mind that all of the above items listed are optional as are the amounts, except for the wild rice. You must have wild rice if you're going to call it wild rice soup. Add what you have on hand, including other veggies you feel would taste good in the soup. For example, I've made this with just broccoli, onions and carrots for the veggies in the wild rice soup. Other times, I've put in more mushrooms and less of the other veggies. I've even added fresh corn cut off the cob or kale if I have them in the fridge. Corn adds another color to the mixture. It also depends on what I'm in the mood for. As for the meat, I've even added left over beef roast to this recipe and found that it is very good! As for seasonings, that's up to you, too. I like the Bay Seasoning because it's a good mix of wonderful flavors. If you want something a little spicier, do it.

- So, begin with cooking your wild rice according to the directions on the package. I buy wild rice that comes from Northern Wisconsin or from Minnesota.

- In the soup pan you are using (I like to sauté everything in one pan instead of having to wash a bunch of pans), heat up the extra virgin olive oil and butter over medium heat and sauté your meats until they are done through. I like my bacon on the crispy side.

- Add all your veggies (not the garlic) and cook until they are almost cooked through. I like a little crunch in my soup for variety.

- Add the garlic last so it does not burn. Burning it can create a nasty odor and flavor.

- Turn the heat down to a low setting and add the milk or heavy cream.

- Add your Bay leave(s)

- Add the cooked wild rice.

- Turn down the heat to a low setting and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes for the flavors to meld together.

- If the soup is too thick, just add some water to get it to the consistency you like. If you want to add more milk, that's good, too.

- Yum! What a lunch. Serve with an English Muffin and butter on the side. Or, cut a couple of slices of a good Gruyere cheese for a side dish.

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