I started following a few folks on Instagram who post beautiful food pictures regularly.
One is Karin Pfeiff Boschek, who does some of the most spectacular pie crusts I have ever seen. Another is food stylist Judy Kim, who not only posts many of her gorgeous food photos but often chronicles the behind-the-scenes set up for her photography sessions.
I continue to try to improve my food photography, despite terrible lighting in my kitchen and my propensity to bake late into the evening, but sometimes, even though the photo of the recipe I try looks extremely appetizing online, mine just doesn’t turn out the same.
This week’s recipe was one of those. Truth be told, it was definitely my fault. The recipe calls for wild rice rather than the normal, long-grain variety, but as we all know, sometimes the local grocery store just doesn’t carry whatever specialized ingredient you’re looking for, so you have to improvise.
What I did not consider was that my cooking time would need to be adjusted and that the colorful soup photo I saw online would not be quite as pretty with only white rice.
With that in mind, I still really liked my end result—even if it wasn’t a picture-perfect soup—and I adjusted the cooking time below to reflect what I wish I would have done.
This recipe comes from the blog “Gimme Some Oven.” You can find it at https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/cozy-autumn-wild-rice-soup/, where the recipe author also posted instructions to make this soup in a pressure cooker. I added extra seasoning and garlic to my version. I also opted for using regular rice instead of wild rice.
Autumn Rice Soup
- 4 tablespoons butter divided
- 1 small white onion diced
- 2 medium-sized carrots diced
- 2 ribs celery diced
- 1 pound sweet potato peeled and diced
- 8 ounces sliced baby bella mushrooms
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 heaping tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk I used skim
- about 3 cups loosely packed kale chopped into bite-sized pieces and the stems removed
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large Dutch oven with a lid, heat one tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat.
- Saute the onion until it is translucent. Add in the carrots, celery, sweet potato, mushrooms and garlic, and stir regularly, letting them cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the stock, rice, bay leaf and Old Bay and stir to combine, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot a bit to loosen any stuck-on bits.
- Keep the pot on medium-high heat until it just starts to slowly bubble. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes and give it a good stir and check the rice’s doneness. If it’s not quite how you want it, continue to let the pot simmer, covered, checking on it every five minutes or so until the rice is where you want it.
- While the rice is cooking, melt the remaining three tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and let it cook for about one minute. Whisk in the milk and stir frequently, making sure to break up any clumps and letting the mixture thicken significantly.
- When the rice is done and the cream sauce is thickened, add the sauce and kale to the Dutch oven and stir to combine.
- Add salt and pepper to taste and serve when it is heated through.
If you decide to use wild rice for your version, the original recipe calls for a 45-minute simmer time. I tried that with my long-grain rice, and while the flavors were still nice, the rice was pretty mushy, and I didn’t end up with the amount of liquid in my soup that I should have had at the end.
This wasn’t one of Joey’s favorites. The kale stays quite crisp, despite being added to the hot soup, and he was not a big fan of the texture. If you’re not a kale enthusiast, you could easily add fresh spinach instead.
And be prepared that your soup might not photograph as nicely as you want. I don’t think my concoction would have a chance of appearing on Karin or Judy’s Instagram feeds, but it was nice to have a warm bowl of soup on a cold day—pretty or not.
This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 28, 2019.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.