Years and years ago, we were at an evening paddle party and our friend, Amy brought the most delicious soup to share for dinner. It was a soup she had enjoyed while skiing at Vail Mountain, specifically at Wildwood Smokehouse. She had procured the recipe from one of the chefs and brought her vacation home in her suitcase. Being a good friend who is not proprietary with her recipes, she happily shared it with me.
And then it proceeded to sit in my recipe drawer for nearly a decade, seeing the light of day maybe once or twice after its introduction. A few times a year, I sift through my recipe drawer that consists of print outs from the internet, magazine pages, hand written recipes on random pieces of paper, handouts from classes I’ve taken, including some from culinary school and even some post-its. I struggle to keep it all organized to be honest.
Sifting through the piles allows the opportunity for reflection about a time in my life when I either made something, was inspired to make something (and maybe never did – I’m looking at you rolled lamb stuffed with apricots and pine nuts) or was served a memorable dish from a family member or friend, the best kind. I almost never forget recipes, especially those that have been given to me. They are in the deep recesses of my mind somewhere. So while some of my recipes are hidden within the piles inside a drawer, they are never far away.
With the onset of cooler temperatures and soup season (although is it ever not soup season on some level?), my mind drifted to this long ago recipe and thought I should pull it out of hibernation and give it a try. It uses an ingredient I had never even heard of before, liquid smoke, to impart the smokiness that distinguishes the soup. The restaurant’s recipe says it often uses their own smoked chicken for the recipe as an alternative. Amy has since told me that she doesn’t use the liquid smoke in the recipe anymore so let’s call it optional. But it does distinguish the soup from others of similar nature, and you use less than a teaspoon so if you are curious I say give it a whirl.
The recipe as originally written is fairly involved and feeds an army. I’ve cut the recipe in half and used some short cuts (stock in a box and rotisserie chicken) to make it super easy to put together. Vegetables are sauteed in a combination of olive oil and butter until just tender, then mixed with some flour to create a roux. Stock is added, along with some dry seasonings, milk, a hint of the liquid smoke, shredded chicken and wild rice that has been cooked off. The mixture is simmered for about 20 minutes until thickened and then finished with a tablespoon of dry sherry and a touch of heavy cream, both of which are optional.
I’ve made the soup twice in the past two weeks. The first time I made it, I was out of some of the seasonings (marjoram, thyme and tarragon) so I used poultry seasoning, a catch-all, with fine results. You can too if you don’t want to buy lots of dried herbs. I also used 2% milk instead of the whole milk called for in the recipe. I thought it was delicious and so did my friend who was the recipient of some of the large batch.
The second time I made it, I did use the correct seasonings (the tarragon really is nice), and used whole milk and I have to say it was rich, creamy and comforting. Some things are meant to live as they were created. I added some fresh chives as a garnish, but you could use other herbs such as a touch of fresh tarragon or parsley – I will leave that up to you to decide!
And since so many are vegetarian these days, I was thinking about how this soup could actually be made as a butternut squash-wild rice soup instead. To do that, I would roast about 4 cups of 1/2 inch cubed butternut squash that you’ve tossed with just a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper at 400 degrees until tender. Add them after the soup has finished simmering just to warm through. Use vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock. I’m definitely going to try this out.
In any case, this soup is a great alternative to game day chili so I hope you give it a try sometime soon and let me know what you think.
Thank you to my friend, Amy S. for the recipe (and the friendship). xo
One Year Ago: Skillet Roasted Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives
Two Years Ago: Quinoa, Spinach and Artichoke Casserole
Three Years Ago: Review of Myers & Chang in Boston, Massachusetts
Four Years Ago: Green Beans with Tomato Sauce (Fassoulia)
Five Years Ago: My Week with Ina Garten
Comfort in a bowl, this soup can be served while watching football, in between ski runs or really anytime. The recipe has been adapted from Wildwood Smokehouse, an on-mountain restaurant at Vail Mountain. Given to me by my friend, Amy, this recipe uses an unusual ingredient in my kitchen and probably yours - liquid smoke. You can leave it out if you wish - Amy now does as it turns out! But it imparts a smoky flavor that is a nice addition. You could make this soup vegetarian friendly by swapping out the chicken with roasted butternut squash (start with 4 cups) and using vegetable stock. If you don't want to buy the dried seasonings, you could substitute an all-purpose "poultry seasoning" for the thyme, marjoram and tarragon. If you make it ahead, you may need to thin it a bit with additional chicken stock when reheating. Enjoy.
- 1/2 cup wild rice
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, sliced thin
- 1/2 pound carrots (roughly 4), cut in half lengthwise, then sliced in thin half-moons
- 1/2 bell pepper, yellow or red, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock, at room temperature
- 2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 3/4 pound shredded or cubed chicken (roughly 3 cups)
- 3/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (Hickory flavor)
- 1 Tablespoon dry sherry
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
- Additional kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh chives for garnish, optional
- In a saucepan, cooked wild rice in water or chicken stock and salt according to package directions. Drain off any excess liquid.
- In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, celery, carrots and bell pepper. Saute until the vegetables are just tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and stir for just one minute more.
- Add the flour to the vegetables and stir until it is completely combined, stirring for another 1-2 minutes just to cook off the raw taste. Slowly add 2 cups of the stock and stir until the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the stock in 2 cup increments, stirring after each addition. Slowly bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the milk in slowly, stirring until combined, followed by the seasonings, chicken, cooked wild rice and liquid smoke if using. Simmer the soup for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Taste and adjust for seasoning. I added another 3/4 teaspoon salt and some freshly cracked black pepper. Add the sherry and heavy cream if using and warm through. Garnish with chives if using. Serve immediately.
Yum!!! I will definitely give both options a try once I get out to WY — perfect for ski days : ) And seeing the posts from years past gives me some ideas, too.. Thanks as always, Val! (And to Amy ; )
You’re welcome! Hope you enjoy.
Yum! You just laid to rest my lunch menu search for good friends. And this is a one pot meal. Thank you so very much.
As always your fan, Hannah B.
You’re welcome, Hannah! xo