Wild rice-cranberry soup
Wild rice, actually an aquatic grain-like seed rather than a rice, grows in marshy bogs, lakes, and rivers. Wild rice is a favorite here in Minnesota where I live, especially around the holidays, when it is appreciated for its nutty flavor. In this soup the rice is paired with tart-sweet cranberries and sherry to add elegance.
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
½ c. finely chopped onion
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 c. vegetable stock
1 ½ c. cooked wild rice
½ c. dried cranberries
1 c. milk or half-and-half
2 tbsp. dry sherry, optional
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Garnish: freshly ground pepper and minced flat-leaf parsley
Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrot is tender, about 8 minutes. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Gradually add the vegetable stock, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.
Increase the heat to medium-high and stir as the soup thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cranberries. Reduce the heat; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries are softened and plumped, about 15 minutes.
Stir in the remaining ingredients, except the garnishes. Stir occasionally until warmed through. Season to taste.
YIELD: 5 cups, four to six servings
This soup will keep for up to 3 days in a covered container in the refrigerator. When reheating, stir in milk to thin as desired.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.