Wild Rice, Ham & Vegetable Chowder

Dinner, In Season, Recipes, Spring, Winter
on November 26, 2011

I love wild rice chowder and seldom make it without ham or bacon. April is the perfect time for this soup, as it uses kale, abundant in the farmer's market, and ham, abundant from Easter celebrations. It's also been cold and rainy, making soup the perfect meal. Add some corn muffins and you have dinner. —Jill Melton, Relish Editor

Wild Rice Chowder
You can bypass what ever vegetables you don't have in the house, and skip the cheese. I like kale in this soup because it's hearty and chewy, and stands up to the firm textured wild rice, but you can use any kind of green.  You could use a lower fat milk, but it can break. Cream is a bit too rich. For me whole milk is the perfect addition here. Combining it with flour stabilizes it and thickens the soup.  This is a great main dish soup. Just add bread, and a salad.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ounces ham or bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup uncooked wild or brown rice
2 cups chicken or beef broth
4 cups water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
2 ounces shredded Comte, Gruyere or swiss cheese
2 ounces shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and pepper
3 cups coarsely chopped fresh kale

1. Combine first 6 ingredients (oil through garlic) in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Saute until browned, about 10 minutes. Add rice, saute 2 minutes. Add broth and water. Simmer until rice in done, about 40 minutes. Combine flour with 2 cups milk, whisk well. Add to soup. Add remaining milk. Cook until soup is thickened, about 15 minutes. Add cheese, salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes. Add kale and cook 5 minutes.