Every once in a while I have cooking related nightmares. One real nightmare occurred while we were preparing a New Year’s dinner at the restaurant. The theme centered around American cooking and since wild rice is a grain indigenous to the Americas I thought it would be appropriate to use it in one of our courses. I decided to prepare a wild mushroom soup with wild rice.
The day before the event we prepared all the components for the soup. We had pre-cooked the wild rice to al dente and were going to add that on New Years Eve as the base was heating.
We added the rice the recipe called for as the soup began to warm and went about other preparations as it was heating. Now I’ve had plenty of experience working with regular rice and I know how rice, especially when added to soups can bloat beyond belief. For some reason I thought that wild rice would be less inclined to do that. I was wrong. When I went to check on the soup the grains had completely absorbed most of the liquid and the contents resembled more a casserole than a soup. To make a long story short, we scrambled and did a recovery job but the results were far from perfect.
If you are ever inclined to make a soup with rice, resist the urge and ignore directions that tell you to add the rice to the broth. Cook the rice separately and warm the grains gently in the microwave right before serving. Spoon the rice into the soup bowl and then ladle the prepared soup around it. No matter what the recipe says do it like that. And this applies to any type of rice; heat the base of the soup independent of the rice and add the rice by spoonfuls to each bowl as it is being served.
I can’t repair that New Year’s dinner but I might keep you from making a similar mistake.