Thursday, November 14, 2013

The L.L. Bean Book of 'New' New England Cookery - Celery, Carrot, and Wild Rice Soup

Date I made this recipe:  November 10, 2013

The L. L. Bean book of New New England Cookery by Judith and Evan Jones
Published by:  Random House
ISBN:  0-394-54456-0
Recipe:  Celery, Carrot, and Wild Rice Soup - p. 49

Oh, the fickleness of fall.  The week before last, the weather was somewhat warm so I made a dish from a Hawaiian cookbook.  But this week, we are back to cloudy and gloomy and so forget the warm-weather food and just give me something "warm."  And so...soup!

I must confess that this recipe selection was sort of a setup - a regional "throw down" if you will.  To my mind, there's no way another state's or region's wild rice soup is going to beat out Minnesota's famous wild rice soup and while this recipe was good, it wasn't "ours."  The New England soup utilizes yogurt, a surprisingly nice addition to the soup, but it did not make it smooth and rich like the Minnesota version that usually relies on cream (and lots of it).  I also added chicken to the New England soup recipe because self-respecting Minnesotan (even an adopted one like me) would make a wild rice soup without chicken or ham.  Period.  Heck, Byerly's grocery store adds slivered almonds to their wild rice soup.  I didn't go that far so whew- no almonds were harmed in the making of this version.

Still, I shouldn't knock this soup as it was quite delicious and a whole lot heart-healthier than the Minnesota version and yet, as we slide into the cold months of the year, I'm not sure anybody is thinking about their hearts, instead focusing on "hearty" with a "y."  (Pun intended).

As to the cookbook, this is quite the tome but I wouldn't expect anything less from authors Judith Jones and (the late) Evan Jones.  In addition to writing cookbooks, Judith is a master cookbook editor, editing, among other things, Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  She is also responsible for "rescuing" (Anne Frank's) The Diary of a Young Girl from the rejection pile, an act for which I thank her mightily as that book made an indelible impression on me when I was a young girl.

Judith's husband, Evan Jones, was no slouch in the writing/editing department, either.  Jones' last book was Epicurean Delight, a biography of James Bear, a book I read a long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away!).  In one of those "small world" moments, it turns out that Evan Jones was a native of Minnesota and there I was making a wild rice soup. 

Judith and Evan also co-authored a couple of cookbooks about bread, something that would have gone nicely with the soup but alas, I do not own one of their bread books and even if I did, we are likely talking about my efforts looking and tasting like a doorstop.  I have not had much success in that area.

Besides the wild rice soup recipe, I was toying with making something with cranberries as that is practically regional berry of honor in New England (blueberries likely come a close second) but we are so close to Thanksgiving that I decided to pass and make soup instead.  Still, the recipe I passed up - Pot Roast with Cranberries and Horseradish (p. 194) is haunting me so I may just have to up and make it sometime soon. 

This soup takes next to no time to make, something I appreciate more and more with my busy schedule, and if you use a mini Cuisinart like I did, the vegetable chopping takes no time which frees you up to watch your favorite football team play (and keeps knives out of your hands - very important during a game).

Celery, Carrot and Wild Rice Soup - serves 4
8 ribs celery
2 tablespoons safflower oil
4 scallions
1/2 tablespoon flour
2 medium carrots, grated
4 cups chicken or beef stock, heated
1 cup cooked wild rice
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons grated cheddar

Trim the celery and chop fine.  Heat the oil and stir in the celery, cooking, covered, for 5 minutes.  Chop the scallions, including the tender greens, and stir into the celery and oil.  Cook 1 minute, stir in the flour, and continue cooking 1 minute more, stirring.  Add the grated carrots, whisk in the hot stock, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes.   Stir in the wild rice and bring the soup to a boil.  Fold in the yogurt.  Serve with grated cheese.

Ann's Note:  I poached two packages of chicken tenders then chopped them and added them to the soup after it was done.  Yummy!


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