Soup season is something I look forward to every year. There's something so comforting about filling your kitchen with the delicious aroma of a simmering pot of soup. This elk and wild rice soup is so flavorful, aromatic, and warming. Cozy up to a warm bowl with a side of crusty bread for dipping and dig in!
What is wild rice?
Despite its name, most wild rice is not actually wild and it's not actually rice. Wild rice is the grain from an aquatic grass that grows in midwestern states near the Great Lakes. While it is a native grain in the US, the wild rice we buy today is cultivated (grown instead of foraged). Additionally, most wild rice in the store is actually a mix of wild rice, red rice, black rice, and white rice. But that doesn't mean it's bad! This wild rice blend has excellent flavor and texture and makes a delicious soup.
What is the best way to cook elk meat?
As a general rule when cooking wild game, meat should either be cooked hot and fast (and served rare to medium-rare) or low and slow to tenderize the meat. The hot and fast method is great for steaks because the meat is already tender before you cook it. But not all meat on an animal is tender. Some meat needs a little more love to get it to that melt in your mouth tender goodness. Using stew meat for soup is great but if you cook everything else in the soup as long as the meat, your soup will turn to mush. But, you can cook the meat separately in a wine and stock mixture for a few hours before making the rest of soup. This will ensure everything in the soup is the perfect texture.
What is the secret to making good soup?
There are a few rules to making a flavorful, delicious soup:
- Don't cook everything together until the end. Different ingredients cook at different rates and if you cook them all together, everything turns to mush.
- Sweat the vegetables. This is a technique that will give you ultra-flavorful vegetables for your soup. Essentially, you cook the vegetables on very low heat in some butter until they release some of their liquid. Then, you continue cooking until most of the liquid has been reabsorbed into the vegetables. The result is perfectly cooked vegetables with a concentrated flavor. It takes a little more time than traditional sautéing but is so worth it!
- Taste as you go. The seasoning in your stock (preferably homemade) will make a big difference in the flavor of your soup. Add salt a little at a time to make sure it's not too salty. Is your soup too rich and one note? Try adding a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to brighten it up. Too acidic? Try adding more cream or butter at the end. Most soups can easily be fixed with these 2 tricks!
This recipe makes a lot. What do I do with all of this soup?
One of my favorite things about making soup is that it makes a few meals' worth! I love having a good stash of freezer meals on hand for those nights where I really don't feel like cooking. Yes, even I don't feel like cooking sometimes! My favorite way to freeze soup is by putting the amount my family will eat in a sitting in a freezer zippered bag. Then, close it up almost all the way but leave a small portion unsealed. Lay the bag out flat on your counter and squeeze all the air out of the bag. Seal it up and place it on a sheet pan and freeze until solid. Now you have a nice brick of soup that stores great upright in the freezer. When you're ready to eat it, set it on a sheet pan in the fridge (in case there are any holes in the bag), and thaw overnight. Heat up on the stove or in the microwave and you're good to go!
Putting it all together:
I said above that it's a good idea to cook the components of your soup separately before cooking them together if they cook at different rates. But how do you know when to mix it all together? Well, that depends on your ingredients. For this particular recipe, it's not going to hurt the meat to cook for a while with the vegetables. In fact, it will add some flavor to the vegetables. Once you add the stock to the cooked vegetables, you can add the meat and cooking liquid to the pot to cook together until the vegetables are finished, about 20 minutes.
Assuming your rice is fully cooked, you don't want it to cook much more. Add the rice in for just enough time to heat it back up. I add in the cream at this time as well because you don't want the cream to cook for very long or it can break. Once it's all heated up, give it a taste, season with salt and red wine vinegar (optional) and you're ready to eat! Serve with some warm, crusty bread and you're sure to have a comforting meal!
Other Soup Recipes to Try:
Elk and Wild Rice Soup
- stock pot
- medium saucepan
- 1.5 lb elk stew meat (or deer, moose, antelope, etc.)
- 2 ½ teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 ½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1 tablespoon lard (or other cooking fat)
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cup water
- 4 cups wild game stock, divided (or beef stock)
- 2-3 sprigs thyme, divided
- 3 bay leaves, divided
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 2 cups carrots, peeled, cut in half, and ½" sliced
- 2 cups diced onion (about 1 large)
- 1.5 cups celery, diced
- 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 2 teaspoon minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
- 16 oz package wild rice, cooked (about 6.5 cups cooked)
- 2 cups half and half
- 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Heat a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper on meat. Toss to evenly distribute spices.
- Add lard to pan and swirl to coat pan. Add meat to pan in a single layer. Work in batches to avoid crowding the meat. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all sides are browned. Remove meat to a bowl and repeat with remaining meat.
- Add all browned meat back to pan. Add in flour and stir to coat meat. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add wine to pan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until thick and bubbly.
- Add 1 cup water, 1 cup stock, 1 sprig thyme, and 1 bay leaf to pan. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook, covered, 2-3 hours or until meat is tender.
- When meat has about 30 minutes left to cook, start preparing the rest of the soup.
- Heat stock pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms to hot pan, no cooking fat needed. The mushrooms should release liquid and reabsorb it by the time they are done cooking. Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until mushrooms are browned but not burned. Remove mushrooms to a plate or bowl.
- Reduce heat to low. Add butter to stock pot and swirl to coat the pan. Add in carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and 2 sprigs thyme to pan. Cook for 15-20 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. Don't let the vegetables brown. Vegetables should release liquid and reabsorb it by the time they are done cooking.
- Add mushrooms back to stock pot. Add in 3 cups stock, meat and cooking liquid, 2 bay leaves, 2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add in cooked wild rice and half and half. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Don't let the soup boil after the half and half has been added in.
- Stir in red wine vinegar just before serving. Serve with crusty bread. Enjoy!
- Place desired amount of soup in freezer zippered bags (quart or gallon size). Squeeze all air out of bags and seal. Lay flat on a sheet pan and freeze until solid. Freeze for up to 3 months.