Learn how to make this wild rice soup with ham, a wonderful recipe to make on chilly days or any time you feel like making a comforting meal for you and your family.
Anyone who met me before knows that I lived in Minnesota for many years. Winters are cold, long and harsh, summers are short and you need fuel to survive the low temperatures that people experience there.
Hearty soups and baked goods are part of the culture and ask anyone living in this part of the world that without them, life would be very sad.
Any Minnesotan household has a version of this wild rice soup, and there is no respectable church cookbook without a recipe of this comforting dish.
I personally love anything with wild rice but I am really in love with wild rice soup. It is comforting, fills you up, and sticks to your ribs, as the Minnesotans like to say. Especially in winter, after a few hours outside of the house in frigid temperatures.
What is wild rice:
Wild rice, which is Minnesota’s State Official Grain, is almost as old as history itself. It is the seed of a grass that grows successfully in marshes and paddies in northern Minnesota.
This plant, now domesticated and grown commercially, is still often gathered from lakes in the traditional manner, especially by indigenous peoples in North America(Ojibwe, Chippewa, Sioux), who consider the grain a sacred component of their culture.
The Ojibwe people call this plant manoomin and cook it in different ways. The wild rice could be cooked in broth, served with maple syrup, made into stuffing for wild birds( great for Thanksgiving stuffing also), salads, soups, and even desserts.
Wild rice (affiliate link) is highly nutritional, very rich in proteins and fiber, and low in fat. It contains potassium, phosphorus, and B vitamins. It has a chewy texture and it is awesome cooked first and then tossed in a little bit of butter.
I would dare to consider wild rice as the “caviar” of gourmet grains.
Why you should make this soup with native-harvested wild rice:
First of all, because the flavor and texture are far superior to the commercially harvested hybrid version. Also, because you will be supporting local agriculture, and your soup will have a true taste of Minnesota.
In my opinion, wild rice soup should be Minnesota’s official dish. This soup could be easily put in the hot dish category, and nothing is more Minnesotan than that.
Note: Please use REAL wild rice!
I totally understand that wild rice is not a cheap ingredient and also not easy to find. We are lucky that in Minnesota, it is available in most stores. Using other types of rice is not the same.
I tend to encourage people to substitute ingredients when they cook (NOT when they bake), but this time I will ask you to not use white rice, brown rice, or a “blend of wild rice”. This blend has only a few grains of wild rice and the rest is white rice.
REAL WILD RICE looks like this:
Basic cooking method for wild rice:
1 cup uncooked wild rice
4 cups water(or broth)
1 teaspoon salt
Rinse wild rice in a strainer under running water or in a bowl of water. Drain.
In a heavy saucepan, bring wild rice, water and salt to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until kernels are open and tender but not mushy. This will take about 45-55 minutes). Drain.
This rice is now ready to use in different recipes.
1 cup uncooked wild rice = 3 to 4 cups cooked wild rice
Tip: Chicken or beef broth may be substituted for water in cooking wild rice. Omit salt.
How to store wild rice:
Uncooked wild rice: Store raw wild rice tightly covered in a cool, dry place. It keeps almost indefinitely.
Cooked wild rice: Refrigerate cooked wild rice up to one week, tightly covered.
Freeze: Place wild rice in a moisture resistant container for up to two months.
More wild rice recipes to love:
Shopping list for the wild rice soup:
- Chicken broth
- Wild rice
- Half and Half
- Optional- sherry or white wine or white vinegar
Why is this recipe easy to make?
We are using already cooked ham and cooked wild rice, making this recipe easier when you have leftovers pieces of ham from the holidays.
OR you cooked too much wild rice for your husband, who loves it served just with butter(like my husband, for example), and you need to use up the leftovers.
How to serve the soup:
This soup is delicious the next day or the day after. Remember to add more chicken stock when reheating, as the wild rice tends to absorb a lot of liquid from the soup.
It goes really well with a crusty artisanal bread, like my awesome No Knead Bread recipe.
This wild rice soup with ham offers some flexibility. While I already talked about the importance of using wild rice in this recipe here are some of the substitutions you can make:
- Carrots– If you don’t like them, skip them. You can add mushrooms instead.
- Ham– As we use fully cooked ham, you will need to use cooked meat to make this quick recipe. Try to replace the ham with cooked chicken or any other poultry you like. Turkey, anyone? Or you can add cooked bacon that you add at the end or when you serve the soup, for extra crunch. Smoked salmon would be delicious too.
- Vegetarian– Skip the meat and make this soup vegetarian. Or go vegan if you remove the dairy completely and the butter and use olive oil instead.
- Sherry– This recipe requires sherry for balancing the acidity. However, we do not drink sherry, so we never buy it, but we always have a bottle of white wine sitting around. If you do not drink alcohol, use a little bit of white vinegar.
More Soups to fall in love with:
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 chopped medium onion
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups cooked wild rice(made from 1/2 cup raw wild rice)
- 2-3 medium carrots sliced thinly
- 1/2 cup cubed ham
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup half and half/OR heavy cream
- Optional: 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- In a soup pot, melt butter and add the chopped onions and carrots. Saute until tender.
- Blend in flour and gradually add broth. Cook, constantly stirring until the mixture comes to a boil. Let it boil for 1 minute.
- Stir in the cooked rice, chopped ham, and salt. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Blend in half and half, and if you choose, sherry(or white wine or white vinegar). Heat the soup again to serving temperature.
- Serve in bowls with crusty artisanal bread.
Basic Cooking Method For Wild Rice:
1 cup uncooked wild rice
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
- Rinse wild rice in a strainer under running water or in a bowl of water. Drain.
- In a heavy saucepan, bring wild rice, water, and salt to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until kernels are open and tender but not mushy(45-55 minutes). Drain. The wild rice is ready to be used in different recipes.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 320Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 911mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 9g