When it comes to soups, I have to admit that I haven’t always been the first in line. It’s not as if I had a childhood barren of the stuff as for every grilled cheese sandwich Mom made up there was also tomato soup to boot. Warm and rich tomato soup with fresh cracked black pepper and oyster crackers. Fast forward to present times and now living in the Czech Republic, soups are a cultural staple; unavoidable; a must-have menu item for every weekday lunch. Why? They are cheap, fast, and filling. Nutritious, too. Chicken noodle soup isn’t quite the norm here for American readers but you can almost certainly find “cesnekova”, or garlic soup served with homemade croutons, “gulas” soup, or a beef-tomato-paprika stew, or “bramborova”, or a potato non-cream based soup. Holiday meals, such as Christmas, always include soup as a first course and their contents vary greatly by region. Collectively speaking, soups in the Czech lands are here to stay (as rightfully they should) because I think we can all agree that soups are inherently comforting, warming, and curing.
In my kitchen, my staple (and favorite) is a potato and leek soup served cool as a Vichyssoise in summer and warm during the fall and winter season. This is my soup supérieur. This winter I have grand plans to fall in love with soup with a classic French Onion served under a blanket of a broiled nutty Swiss in addition to an authentic Czech “gulas” soup – a coveted family recipe to be shared with you. With November coming to a close here in Prague and the hibernating months ahead, now is no better time than to serve up a warm and hearty home-style dish. Below is my master recipe for a creamy mushroom and wild rice soup with chicken & lardons being optional ingredients. I made this recipe both vegetarian and non-vegetarian and was enjoyed immensely by parties who fall on both sides of the debate.
So before you settle down with a cozy book and blanket for the afternoon, warm up first with this mushroom & wild rice soup. Ready in an hour.
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 pound chopped mushrooms
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 tsp parsley
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 cups tepid cream
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 3 cups cooked wild rice
- Optional: appx 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
- Optional: 1/8 inch cut lardons
- Optional: sour cream / creme fraiche
- In a medium sauce pan, bring broth, mushrooms, celery, carrots, onion, parsley, garlic, and thyme to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- While simmering, saute chicken with thyme and rosemary. Set aside. Additionally, cook rice and set aside.
- In a large sauce melt butter and flour and make a roux. Add tepid cream and whisk rapidly. Add white wine then once thickened, slowly add soup by ladling.
- To serve: bowl soup then add the rice to the bowl and chicken. Garnish with creme fraiche or sour cream and parsley, lardons.
- Notice that the rice is not added to the soup mixture. I have found that adding rice or pasta to soup and when storing leftovers, it will absorb then liquid and form more of a risotto and less of a soup. Tip: build soups separately and serve together. Store certain ingredients separately.