So, you know by now that I love the stories about how I acquired random things more than I love the random things themselves. (See: crock pot.) The bag of wild rice that took up residence in my cupboard for a month or two is no exception.
Sometime around Solstice/Christmas, I went to get my hair cut. I love my salon: It’s a happy combination of the old-school beauty parlor where everyone gossips the day away and the trendy, eco-hippie “studio” type of place. It’s family-run, the prices are good, and they send all the cut hair off to make mats to absorb oil spills. I digress. As I was getting my hair washed, one of the stylists held up a bag of wild rice and asked me what to do with it.
Now, being vegan and mouthy, I’m used to having people ask me what to do with haphazard food items. I inspected the bag of rice, then went on to explain how she could mix it with white or brown rice and make it into a nice pilaf with some veggies, or throw it into some soup, or…. You get the picture. She interrupted to explain that the rice freaked her out, that it was a random Christmas gift from some equally random client. Wild rice as a Christmas gift? That gave even me pause. We scrutinized the bag of rice as though it were some exotic species, and she admitted that the tiny black grains looked like bugs. She asked me to take it.
“I can’t take your Christmas present!” I objected.
“Please, I don’t want it!” she cried.
Well, dear reader, what would you have done? I didn’t want her to be stuck with a bag of rice she’d never cook and that made her feel like an insect assault was imminent, and I couldn’t let the rice be thrown out. So, after my hair was coiffed to perfection, I tucked my accidental gift into my bag and wondered what I would do with it once I got it home. But not before I promised her I’d blog about it and make her internet-famous for her generosity.
Last weekend (or perhaps the weekend before, they all blur together in a haze of laundry and cooking and naps), I sent my new bag of wild rice to its great reward: Veganomicon’s Porcini and Wild Rice Soup. I highly recommend this tasty soup, but as you will see, it had a surprise up its little soup-sleeve (or under its lid, as the case may be).
All went well with the soup preparation. My dried mushrooms (porcinis? I have no clue) are ancient, so I soaked them for much longer than the recipe called for, and they reconstituted beautifully. The broth was made, fresh mushrooms (I subbed baby bellas, I think) sliced, herbs added, and wild rice stirred in for a deliciously fragrant brew. It looked great. It was nowhere near dinner time, so once it was done, I turned the stove off and let it sit for a wee while to cool before I put it in the fridge.
When I came back to the kitchen and lifted the lid of my big stockpot, what greeted me had long since left soup territory behind and was rapidly approaching the outer limits of what could be described as stew. That bastard rice had soaked up all the liquid and looked ready to eat my soul, as well.
“What the hell!” I shouted at it, visions of this demon-grain eating my mushrooms along with the broth clouding my vision. Fuming at this disagreeable development, I stirred the pot to see if any broth at all was left. A scant bit was—not enough to reclaim the title of “soup,” but enough to keep the—pilaf?—moistened and tasty.
And tasty it was, dear reader. Once I calmed down enough to stop cursing the weirdo salon client whose fault this clearly all was—seriously, next year just get a gift card—I acknowledged that whatever I had made, it was yummy. It was still wet, and I still needed a spoon to eat it, and it still had mushrooms. Not a triumphant charge over the finish line, perhaps, but a respectable showing.
Seriously, Vcon readers, make this soup. Only don’t expect it to stay soupy for long.