I never appreciated wild rice until I moved to Minnesota where it is practically a religion. Authentic wild rice is actually the seed of a grass that grows along the shores of lakes throughout Minnesota and is harvested by knocking the seeds off the stalks into the bottom of the canoe.
Truly wild rice can only be harvested by members of the Anishanaabe tribe who live on the land and lakes where it grows. In Minnesotan restaurants, if you put wild rice in a dish - soup, stuffing, casseroles - people will gobble it up. And with good reason. It has an earthy flavor and chewy bite that makes you want to come back for seconds, thirds and fourths.
The most traditional pairing is chicken and wild rice soup but I also love to add wild rice to mushroom soup, with or without cream. In this instance I added some dried porcini mushrooms that I had just found at a great price, which added an even deeper earthiness to the wild rice. Fresh porcini mushrooms are something I have yet to cook with but the dried version has a wonderful smoky aroma that I knew it would go nicely with this soup. Of course you can make it without the porcini, that's just an extra touch if you have access to them.
Double Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 oz white mushrooms, chopped
1/2 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
5-6 pieces of dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 cup wild rice
Pour 2 cups boiling water over the dried porcini if using and allow to soak for 30 minutes. Remove rehydrated porcini, slice in slivers and reserve liquid. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Add salt and both sets of mushrooms and thyme and cook over medium heat until mushrooms give up liquid and begin to stick to bottom of pan. Add reserved porcini liquid to pot and bring to boil. Add rice and cook covered for 30-40 minutes until rice is cooked. when done, rice will curl up and be tender. Season with salt and pepper.