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Minnesota Wild Rice Soup

February 19th, 2009 · 13 Comments · Soups


When I was eleven, I went to French camp in Minnesota. It was a beautiful site on a lake in the woods, where we swam, played games, and sang by the campfire. Alas, I seem to only have the quirky memories left: sticking a Lindt chocolate ball in my disco ball necklace which I won for speaking only french one day (it fit perfectly) playing a game of poker after sneaking off from french language class, and a crush on a cute blond boy that had spent a previous summer at the Japanese language camp and called himself the “oni” child, a Japanese term for a demon. At one point I learned the lyrics to Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” in french..

Predictably, the most memorable thing about camp that summer was the food, a combination of traditional francophone dishes from all over the globe, mixed with traditional Minnesotan comfort foods. Although the water tasted like quarters, and I spent nearly three weeks avoiding water, the food was to die for, and I couldn’t get enough of it (I have the cookbook and still use it). After camp was over, my family picked me up and we drove off on an adventure, eating moose meat and wild rice, and traveling to where the waters of the Mississippi river start, and you can stand in the one place, stepping on both sides of the river at the same time. That summer I fell in love with Minnesota.

Years later, in college, I found myself a best friend who lived right outside of Minneapolis, so it was to my great delight that I found an excuse to go back to the state that I had become entranced with so many years before. Lizzy, her parents, and their many dogs, opened their home to me, and most fortunately for me, their tried and true collected recipe binders. It was one evening that I had a real Minnesota Wild Rice soup that changed my world for the better.

This isn’t quite the exact recipe that they had, but a very close adaptation. Really, I change it up every time, and the absolute best part of this soup is that it is IMPOSSIBLE TO FAIL. Believe me, I never have all the ingredients and it always manages to work out. And if anyone wants to try this, but is panicky about a lack of concrete recipe, I assure you, it will work. If you finish it and feel uneasy about the result, put it in the fridge, let it sit for a day, and taste it again. It only gets better.


Wild Rice Soup
adapted from the Wilkins Family Kitchen
3-4 servings

The Basic Ingredients:
– A knob of salted butter ( a few tablespoons)
– 1 onion
– 2 carrots
– 2 sticks of celery
– 6 cups of chicken broth
– 3 cups cooked wild rice (cooked in chicken broth)
– 1.5 cups turkey ham (or regular ham)
– 1/4 cup flour
– 1/3 cup heavy cream
– 1/4 cup dry sherry


1. Cook a box of wild rice according to directions. (Its about an hour or so, until the grains split) and I usually do it in chicken broth. But, you can do it ahead of time and have it in the fridge.

2. In a big pot, saute an onion, 2 carrots, and a couple of sticks of celery (your basic mise) in a knob of butter. For a while… or until everything gets soft, about 15 minutes or so, or really however long you have to sit around and stir. Add chicken broth- I used a quart last time, because it was all I had, and let it all simmer for half an hour or so. (This is when I put my leftover turkey carcass in if I have one, feel free to do the same if you want a more flavorful broth). And that’s your basic soup stock there.

3. Then for the stuff: I added about 1.5 cups of cubed Turkey ham. Dump in
the rice as well- really as much as you want to use- I used all of it.

4. To finish: in a little bowl, put 1/4 cup of flour, and stir in some of the hot broth to form a soupy thickener, and then add it to the pot. (Now, last time I *get this* had *NO REAL FLOUR* in the kitchen, and so I used Wondra and it worked… wondrously. Finish with some heavy cream, or in my case, about a third of a cup of fat free half and half. And then the KEY INGREDIENT: SHERRY. A couple of good glugs. Dry Sherry, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but you need it! The sherry is the key. I had to use vermouth once, because we were out of sherry, and man it just wasn’t the same. I solved that by pouring in a bit of sherry to every serving I microwaved.

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13 Comments so far ↓

  • Jennifer

    What a great story! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the food here in Minnesota. Did you get a chance to try lutefisk? I kid!

    The soup sounds delicious! I love a good wild rice soup.

  • "KiKi"

    Didn’t Satkowski work at the aforementioned camp? Or am I making that up because she knows a million languages?

  • jen

    My hubby’s grandpa sends wild rice over to CA from MN all the time, so I had to try this! Came out delicious, but I had a problem adding the flour thickener into the soup and ended up with clumps of flour floating around! I’m an idiot, what did I do wrong? Luckily I was able to scoopem out and it still tasted great 😛

    • Sam

      Jen, I’m glad to see you liked it! It’s a little bit like making gravy- you have to slowly add the liquid to the flour in the little bowl, pushing any stray clumps into the side of the bowl to break them up, so that it forms a really smooth paste, and then adding more liquid to make it really soupy before putting it in the pot. That way you should avoid the flour clumps.

  • lizzy

    no no no
    you need to put the flour in after you sautee the vegetables and make a slurry (stir constantly to avoid burning), then add the other stuff.

    now i want wild rice soup.

  • PastormacsAnn

    Made this soup tonight and it was FABULOUS!! I doubled the recipe because we are a big family and like left-overs. The only thing I did differently was to add a can of drained corn niblets. Definitely a keeper. My family is already asking me when I’ll be making it again. Thanks!

  • Pam Hawk

    This looks about right.

    We lived and worked in downtown Minneapolis for many years; I was a concierge and the hubby was a chef. We knew the best places to find this soup and ate it as often as possible. Now having lived in Oregon for the past seven years (and we haven’t had the soup for about that long, too) we decided to make it as a holiday treat. The rice is cooked and the broth is ready and… Uh oh – we don’t even have a recipe for the stuff! Glad to find your post. And your blog. Thanks!

    One side note: We’ve never seen it made with ham (chix and turkey are most common in the soup made in MN) so we’ll have to try that variation next. Cheers!
    .-= Pam Hawk´s last blog ..Teeny tiny kitchen =-.

    • Sam

      Aww! Thanks Pam! I need to get back to this recipe – haven’t made it in so long, and it’s truly one of my favorite soups…

  • Dallas

    My boyfriend is working in Minneapolis during the week, and he very coyly asked me if I could find a recipe for Minnesota Wild Rice Soup. So your recipe is a godsend for us in Dallas. (BTW, I looked at many other recipes, but yours was by far the most endearing.) Made the rice, have the mise going, and can’t wait to have a big bowl!

  • Marie

    Sam, you mentioned that you have the cookbook and still use it. Please, would you share the name of that book with us? Thank you!

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