This is not the first time this recipe has been posted. Back in October of 2010, this Chicken Wild Rice Soup made an appearance on The Open Fridge. It's being re-featured for a few reasons:
The recipe was requested quite a bit when I served it at my book club this past weekend. When I host, I really like to tie the food to the themes of the book and the book we read, These Granite Islands by Sarah Stonich, takes place in Northern Minnesota during the 1930's and what is more Minnesotan than wild rice soup? Nothing, I tell you, nothing. Well, except maybe hot dish with three different kinds of canned "Cream of ... Soups" or bars for dessert--which I also served, so there).
In this updated version, I've included a Gluten-free variation (see below).
It is one of my all-time favorites and deserves another day in the sun.
Chicken Wild Rice Soup
2 cups cooked wild rice (cook according to package directions or can substitute a boxed rice mix)
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped ham
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup half and half (or heavy cream or canned evaporated milk)
In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery, season with pepper and garlic powder and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and vegetables are becoming tender (3-5 minutes).
Add ham and flour. It will "seize up" into a mass. Continue cooking, stirring constantly for another couple of minutes to remove the raw taste from the flour.
After about 2 minutes, slowly stir in chicken broth, a little at a time, stirring constantly so that the flour-vegetable mixture is smoothly incorporated into the broth.
Raise heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and stir in cooked rice and chicken. Allow to simmer until vegetables are tender. Shortly before serving, stir in half and half or cream and allow to gently heat through without boiling. Adjust salt and pepper as desired.
The quantities are easily doubled to make soup for a crowd or you can divide it in half and freeze a portion to be available another time.
This is definitely not the super-thick version that you may have come across at restaurants or hanging out in kettles at supermarkets. If you want something closer to that, increase the flour and butter significantly--maybe 1/2 cup each?--and make sure to stir constantly when you are bringing the soup to a boil (almost like you're making a white sauce) and use the heavy cream in place of the half and half. Whoa, it'll be rich!
For a Gluten-Free variation: Omit the flour and just sauté the vegetables and ham mixture until vegetables start to become tender. Stir in broth and continue as directed above until step of adding half and half. In a small bowl, place 2-3 tablespoons corn starch. Whisk in a small amount of half and half until you have a smooth mixture. Stir into the soup to thicken slightly and add remaining half and half.