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Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
When I was a kid, I used to pray that it wouldn't snow before my birthday. Since my birthday falls three days after Halloween, an evening of being able to wear costumes unhindered was automatically covered in that prayer. Sometimes my prayers were answered, sometimes they weren't. It was a crapshoot.

Fast-forward 30 years, and we're lucky if it snows before mid-January. Yes, there's usually one really big, foreboding blast during the first half of November that fools us into unearthing every spare pair of gloves, hat, and scarf we had packed away—but it fades into a distant memory long before lights start twinkling from every other house on the street. I can't remember our last white Christmas. And as far as I'm concerned, once Christmas is over, I'm done with snow. Oh how my younger, largest-snowy-hill-in-the-neighborhood-seeking self would be disappointed in me.

My point really being that it's now January 2nd, and instead of peering out the window to a white blanket that envelops our street in a hush, I see lawns mottled with patches of brown. But those gloves are definitely getting their use, as it is cold as all get-out. Which means that I pretty much want a big pot of soup simmering on the stove on a daily basis.

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
This year I had grand plans for soup containing leftover holiday turkey—and found myself sorely lacking in the leftover department. I even plan for leftovers, but the turkey must have been particularly good this year, because a few day-after sandwiches were all that we could make from what was left. But hey, there's no rule that says I can't make turkey soup and start with uncooked turkey now, is there?

Apparently there's not, because this Turkey and Wild Rice Soup wound up being the best soup I've made in a long time (aside from this Smoked Salmon Chowder which I could eat on the daily). Every single person in the family loved it, and if I'm being honest, there's usually at least one person who just shrugs and says "meh, soup". Not the case this time. I'm already being asked when I'm making another pot.

It's the perfect way to ward off those bitter cold days, even if there's no snow in the foreseeable future.

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
Each spoonful is filled with tender turkey, veggies, and chewy wild rice. This hearty soup is great served by itself or with a grilled sandwich on the side.
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Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 65 minutes
Keywords: simmer soup/stew soy-free sugar-free turkey rosemary rice Thanksgiving American fall winter

Ingredients (serves 8 - about 2.5 quarts)
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice or wild rice blend (I used Lundberg)
  • 2.5 to 3 quarts turkey stock, divided
  • 20 ounces (1-1/4 pounds) turkey breast tenderloins (or a breast cut into thick strips)
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 medium carrots, small dice (~1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 medium onion, small dice (~1-1/2 cups)
  • 2 large celery stalks, small dice (~1 cup)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
cooking the rice:
Combine rice and 2 cups of the turkey stock in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a low simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes without taking off the lid. Lift the lid and use a fork to fluff the rice; reserve.

cooking the turkey:
While the rice is cooking, move on to the turkey. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Combine 1/2 teaspoon of the dried rosemary, salt, and 1/4 teaspoons of the black pepper; sprinkle over the turkey.

Heat a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Once oil is hot, add the turkey and cook until browned on all sides and just cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside turkey and let rest for 10 minutes.

Once the turkey has rested, shred it or cut it into bite-sized chunks; reserve.

putting it all together:
Add the remaining butter and olive oil to the same pot you used for cooking the turkey; set it over medium-high heat. Once hot, add carrot, onion, celery, garlic, remaining rosemary and black pepper. Sauté for 8 minutes or until the veggies are just starting to get soft and have begun to turn golden in spots.

Carefully add the sherry to the pot, letting it cook until almost evaporated, 1-2 minutes, scraping the fond from the bottom of the pot as you go.

Add the remaining turkey stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add reserved rice and turkey (with any accumulated juices) to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes to heat through and bring everything to the same temperature.

I love the extra layers of flavor that are added to this soup from seasoning and browning the turkey, and from cooking the rice separately in turkey broth. But, if you want to make this using leftover turkey and/or rice, you can definitely do that.

Turkey: use 3 cups of cooked turkey that has been shredded or cubed. Remember to decrease butter, olive oil, rosemary, and salt since you'll be skipping that step.

Rice: use 2 cups of cooked wild rice or wild rice blend. Add the stock that you would have used to cook the rice in with the remaining stock (don't decrease it).

Taste the soup when it's finished and adjust for seasoning, if needed.

Since rice does absorb liquid as it sits, you may need to add extra stock if serving leftover soup.
Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
More comforting bowls of soup:
Garlicky Chicken Soup
Good Ol' Chicken Noodle Soup
Smoky Chicken Paprikash Soup

I am sharing this soup with Deb's Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen!