Do yourself a favor and buy a couple bags of wild rice. Now cook up a big pot, be patient, wait for the rice to plump and split. Freeze some for future meals, and put the rest to use in whatever you’re cooking this week. I’m never sorry to have wild rice at the ready and this creamy wild rice soup is case in point. It’s a creamy winter warmer loaded with chewy, nutty wild rice and pan-fried mushrooms, fragrant with fresh thyme. So delicious!
Creamy Wild Rice Soup: the Ingredients
The ingredient list for this soup is relatively short. Once you have some cooked wild rice (which you can make a couple days ahead of time), the rest of the prep is primarily chopping mushrooms and grating a bit of cheese.
- Mushrooms: You have a lot of flexibility here. You can use whatever mushrooms you typically purchase, or experiment with varietals you find at local farmers’ markets. Brown button mushrooms from the grocery store work well. Or mix it up like I did for the version pictured here. Each mushroom has a unique flavor and texture. Floppy mushrooms I like to tear into pieces. And chopping firmer mushrooms into small pieces is the way to go.
- Wild Rice: My pro-tip related to wild rice is to avoid undercooking it. It definitely takes some time to cook, often an hour or more, but I like to let a lot of the grains split before draining off any additional water.
- Cheese: I like to use a creamy, assertive cheese like Gruyere in this soup, but you can experiment. The key is strong flavor - give cheeses like mozzarella a pass here.
- Cream: I use a heavy cream to give the broth in this soup body and richness. But on occasion I’ll substitute cashew cream - I tend to keep cashews on hand, but not always heavy cream. Instructions for both are included below.
How To Make Wild Rice Soup
To make this an easy weeknight meal you’ll want to cook the wild rice ahead of time. Just choose a window a day or two ahead of time so it’s ready to go when you want to make the soup. From there it’s quite straightforward.
- Saute the shallots and fresh thyme.
- Chopped mushrooms go in next, cook until browned.
- Add the water, broth, and/or bouillon.
- Stir in the wild rice.
- Grated cheese and cream are the grand finale.
- Season with salt and black pepper.
Also, don't sleep on the leftovers here. This is one of those soups that is even better the day after. It thickens a bit, the flavors deepen and meld in a wonderful way.
If you end up loving this soup, and making it part of your cooking repertoire, you can switch up a bit.
- Make it spicy: I like to add a minced serrano pepper (or two) to introduce a bit of kick here. You could also use dried chile pepper flakes.
- Not mad at celery: If you add a couple stalks worth of chopped celery along with the shallots, you really introduce that holiday stuffing flavor profile. People love it and the whole situation makes your house smell like a place everyone wants to be.
- Roasted winter squash: Adding some roasted winter squash to this wild rice soup is an ideal paring. If you finish off each bowl with some roasted delicata squash, or simple, roasted butternut or honeynut squash you add a bit of visual flare as well. And toss in some toasted pumpkin seeds while you’re at it!
More Creamy Soup Recipes
- Simple Cauliflower Soup
- Pumpkin and Rice Soup
- Simple Asparagus Soup
- Simple Carrot Soup
- Thirteen Great Blender Soups
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Creamy Wild Rice Soup
Use whatever edible mushrooms you like here, or do what I do (pictured above) and use a mix. You can chop the mushrooms into 1/4-inch pieces, or leave them larger if you like. For the creamy component, sometimes I make this with cashew cream in place of the heavy cream. Make cashew cream by blending 1 cup of raw cashews and 1 cup of watering a high-speed blender until silky smooth. And I had a few crispy fried shallots on hand, so I threw them on top of the finished soup. Not necessary, but everyone loves them.
- 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 3 shallots, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 pound mushrooms, trimmed, chopped (or torn)
- 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste
- 6 cups water or broth
- 1 tablespoon bouillon if needed
- 3 cups cooked wild rice*
- 2 ounces / 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the butter. Stir until melted, then add the shallots and fresh thyme. Cook until the shallots soften, 4-5 minutes. Dial up the heat a bit, stir in the salt and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their liquid, and begin to brown, 10 minutes or so.
Add the water (or broth) and bouillon (if you think you need more flavor), and simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Until the broth thickens just a bit. Stir in the wild rice and allow the broth to come back to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the grated cheese and cream. Season with more salt if needed and plenty of black pepper.
*To cook wild rice, your ratio is 1 cup rice to 3 cups salted water. So if you’re cooking 2 cups of wild rice, use 6 cups of water. Boil until the rice splits and grains are tender throughout, usually 50 - 60 minutes. Drain off any extra water if needed.