Chicken Wild Rice Soup

A Minnesota classic.  We love wild rice here, in many forms.  Soup, stuffing, side dish, casserole, cold salad.  Nothing says fall to me like wild rice.  Or, specifically, this soup.

A local restaurant and grocery store called Byerly's made this famous.  The old Dayton's store restaurant served this soup as well.  Some recipes call for ham, not chicken, not all use almonds and mushrooms, some are thicker and creamier, some brothier.  Mine has evolved into this current version, depending on what's in the house and how it tastes.

It's an ideal soup to make after Thanksgiving, when you might have leftover turkey, the makings for good broth, and some pre-cooked wild rice.  I made it from start to finish today, cooking the rice, taking broth and cooked chicken out of the freezer, and thankfully having everything else in the house.

The following recipe makes a huge pot, enough to feed my family of 8 for two meals, and maybe even some lunch leftover.  This, with some crusty bread or popovers, and a fresh green salad, makes a perfect chilly-evening supper. 

Feel free to omit anything that doesn't sound good to your family, but don't rule out the almonds, they add a bit of bite and some sweetness that is surprising and good.

Chicken Wild Rice Soup

8 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 shallot, minced
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
8 cups chicken broth
4 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup shredded carrot
3/4 cup chopped, slivered almonds
4 cups shredded, cooked chicken
2 cups half-and-half
1/3 cup dry sherry (NOT cooking sherry)
salt and pepper
handful of freshly chopped parsley

In a large soup pot, heat the butter on medium low.  Add the onions and shallots and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes.   Add a bit of salt and pepper, then the flour, and stir, coating the onion/mushroom mixture with all the flour.  Cook for a minute.  Turn the heat up to medium high, add the wine, and then the broth, stirring all the while to make it smooth.  Bring to a simmer for a minute or two.  Add the wild rice, carrots, almonds and chicken and cook for a few more minutes.  Reduce the heat to low and add the half and half and the sherry, and heat through.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if you see the need.  Stir in the chopped parsley and serve.

(Note:  you made need to add more broth or water the second day, as the liquid may be absorbed and create a thicker soup than you like.)

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