Authentic wild rice is quite different than the hybridized versions most of us are familiar with. Not that they arent tasty, but you might want to try the real thing. This soup derives its stock from the rice cooking water itself. Its flavor is clean; the color golden-green. Like all grains, the cooked rice will continue to absorb liquid once the soup is finished. I have actually served the "soup" as a side dish a day or two after making it, when virtually all the liquid had been drunken up by the grains.
Makes About 2 Quarts
3/4 cup wild rice, preferably real hand-harvested
8 cups water
1 small onion, sliced
1 large or 2 smaller leeks, sliced in rounds, separated and rinsed well
1 or 2 carrots, cut on the diagonal a scant 1/2-inch thick
1 small russet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 small celery root, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, peeled and cut into long diagonals
1 fennel bulb, sliced lengthwise about 1/2 inch thick
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup milk or cream
A few tablespoons minced celery and/or fennel leaves
1. Rinse the rice then add it to the pot with the 8 cups water and salt. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the grains have started to burst and are pleasantly edible, about a half-hour. Pour the liquid off and set it aside to use in the soup. Re-cover the pot and set it aside to steam.
2. Peel, trim and cut the vegetables, choosing among the list, or using all of them. Make the pieces attractive and on the large size, but not too big for a soup spoon.
3. Melt the butter, add the vegetables and give them a stir. Cook over medium heat for several minutes, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the flour. Pour in the reserved rice-cooking liquid plus water to make 7 cups. Simmer until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. If you want the soup to be a little thicker, puree a cup or two of the vegetables and return them to the pot.
4. Add the rice and stir in the cream. Taste for salt. Season with pepper, and serve with a generous sprinkling of chopped celery leaves.
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