Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mushroom Lentil Wild Rice Soup and Honeycrisp Apple Salad

There are many variations of creamy wild rice soup, especially here in Minnesota where it seems to be a standard item on many restaurant's menus.  It is funny how every store or restaurant claims that theirs is the best...which lead me to thinking I should create my own vegetarian version!  I decided that mushrooms were a must in my soup, because they love wild rice being that they are both so earthy.  I also included onions, carrots and garlic, but no celery, because I am really not a fan of it.  I believe that main dish soups need a protein source, and although chicken style seitan would have been delicious in this soup, I decided to go with lentils instead.  Nothing fancy, just what I had on hand the humble brown lentil.  Many wild rice soups are gut bustingly creamy...which is why many people love them, but I did not want mine to be.  Just rich enough to be satisfying, but still leave me feeling good after enjoying it.  So instead of the usual large amounts of butter and cream with white flour roux, I used olive oil with whole wheat pastry flour and a mixture of stock and soymilk instead.   It was still rich tasting and satisfying, and you wouldn't have known it was healthy.  The soup was much better than it's gut busting cousins!  Wonderfully earthy and silky...a wonderful marriage of flavors, a bowl of warming comforting goodness perfect for a fall evening! 

But of course, soup alone is not a full meal for I made a light salad to go along with it!  And what better to feature in a salad this time of year than Honeycrisp apples?  They go wonderfully with bitter greens and shallots, so I included those as well.  Some roasted figs found their way into the mix, as well as some sweet and salty walnuts for crunch.  I dressed it all in a riesling vinaigrette, which happens to be my favorite because it is wonderfully sweet but has a nice tartness without being too acidic.  My last addition to the salad was a sprinkling of a locally produced cheese, Northern Lights Blue, which is actually made at the U of MN!  It is like a roquefort...sweet and salty.  It goes wonderfully with apples, especially Honeycrisp, and I often eat the two together for dessert if I want something light.  This salad is a mosaic of textures and flavors, and it has them all...tart apples, sweet figs, crunchy toasty nuts, bitter greens, and salty cheese...I don't know if I can call a salad heavenly, but this one is in my opinion!  Together this soup and salad made the perfect meal for a fallish night!  I have included both the recipes below if you are interested!

Mushroom Lentil Wild Rice Soup
Serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour
2 cups stock
2 cups soy milk
12 mushrooms, sliced
1 can lentils, drained and rinsed
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp sea salt or as needed
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups cooked wild rice

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onions and carrots and saute until starting to soften.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute, then add flour, and cook for another minute, or until starting to toast, and lightly brown.  Add stock and soymilk slowly, stirring constantly to prevent any lumps from forming.  Add mushrooms, lentils, thyme, sea salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer, and let cook until mushrooms have softened, soup has thickened, and flavors have melded, about 20 minutes.  Add wild rice, allow to heat through, taste for seasoning, add more salt if needed, and serve!

Honeycrisp Apple and Northern Lights Blue Cheese Salad with Walnuts
Serves 3

1/2 cup walnuts
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp maple sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground chipotle powder

10 mission figs, halved
olive oil

1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp riesling vinegar
1 tsp honey dijon
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp dried thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 cups mixed flavorful greens such as arugula, mizuna and dandilion
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 small honeycrisp apples, sliced
2 oz roquefort or a local roquefort style blue cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with foil, and spray with nonstick spray. Toss walnuts with agave, maple sugar, sea salt , and chipotle and spread out on one of the sheets. Roast in the oven until fragrant and starting to brown, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Increase the oven temp to 475, and place rack in the top position. Toss figs with a just enough oil to coat and spred out on other baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes until softened but not mushy. When done roasting, remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Combine greens, shallots, figs, and apples in a large bowl, pour dressing over, and toss with hands to coat. Divide salad between 3 plates and top with toasted nuts and cheese.


penny aka jeroxie said...

that looks really good and comforting!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm... apples, walnuts and blue cheese is my favorite salad combination. I love the idea of adding roasted figs as well! I'll have to try this :)

Julie said...

Oh my... I don't even really like mushrooms and I want to make this! And the salad is very similar to my favorite combination. :)

Claudia said...

I've had a hard time finding fresh figs this autumn. I came upon some at Surdyk's and should have bought them out. I love the salad - being a honeycrisp and Northern Lights blue cheese nerd. The soup is autumn dreamy!

Amy said...

If you live in the Minneapolis area, the Wedge Coop in Minneapolis, or Fresh and Natural Foods in Shoreview on Hwy 96 carry fresh figs!

GreenGirl said...

Never tried, actually never heart of wild rice soup before. I'm a big soup fan, my husband loves rice, perfect combination :d