My absolute low points as a cook have been the disastrous beer cheese soup (which was fine, it just turns out my husband loathes beer cheese soup,) and the mushroom wild rice soup I made for our writers group. I was pregnant with my daughter at the time, and my husband and I were both working for mortgage companies, he for Norwest, me for Prudential. Our writers group was meeting at our apartment fairly soon after work and I thought I could make up a nice vegetarian cream of wild rice and mushroom soup recipe in the crock pot. I did all the things I do to make good soup, sautéed an onion, added diced carrot and celery, sautéed the mushrooms, and added wild rice and water. I planned to add cream when we got home. I scooped it all into the crock pot and left for work.
Turns out wild rice will expand infinately and assume a very mushy and horrible texture if left in the crock pot for an entire day. If you want soup and not porridge you only need about half a cup of wild rice, not a whole bag. Also, pregnant ladies are sensitive to strong tastes and odd textures and may not be able to eat either mushrooms or wild rice for years if they have one bad experience. Don't make cream of mushroom and wild rice soup in the crockpot if you value your tummy and wish to impress your guests.
Cream of Wild Rice Chicken Soup
However, I redeemed myself yesterday by making what my husband claims is the best soup I have ever made. Dave roasted chicken on Monday night, and it was great. My husband just rubbed it with butter, salted and peppered and sprinkled rosemary, thyme, and poultry mix on it, and rubbed garlic butter under the skin. He roasted it at 450 for about an hour in a small gratin dish. It was truly a great roast bird. I ran off to my book club while he pulled the remaining meat off the bird, and made a stock with the carcass and pan juices and a bit of water, but nothing else. There was maybe a cup and a half of mostly pan juices when I got home, plus some chicken meat in the fridge. (He also served reheated leftover pureed sweet potato and cut up fresh vegetables and some melon.)
Tuesday I got home from work and sautéed a big onion in some butter. I added diced carrots and celery. I split the aromatics into two pots, and added sliced button mushrooms to one. I added peeled and diced broccoli stems to the other. They both got 1/2 - 3/4 cup of wild rice, salt, pepper, and some fresh herbs including thyme, savory, sage, parsley, and chives. The mushroomy soup also got the chicken broth. I added water to cover and cooked them both till the wild rice was done. I needed to go run an errand, so when the rice was cooked I added cold whole milk to both to stop the cooking, turned off the heat and went on my errand. When I got back I added a lot of broccoli to the vegetarian soup, and a little broccoli and the chicken meat to the chicken soup. Once the broccoli was cooked and the soup was simmering I added cream to both, and cheese to the vegetable soup, adding the cheese off the heat. I threw in another handful of herbs and that was it.
Fundamentally it was the same soup as 20 years ago, though the awesome chicken and broth made it much much better, not to mention my new found love of cream. But the funny thing is, I wouldn't have been able to make this soup without experiencing the disaster of the other soup. I wouldn't have known to cool the soup down so I could run my errand without having made the horrible porridge. Which I guess just goes to show that you should forgive your cooking failures as long as you learn from them. And also, just because you failed at something once doesn't mean you will fail again.
Also, it turns out no amount of cheese or broccoli, which my children all love, will make up for the presence of wild rice in soup for my youngest son. Sadly I even intended to make their soup with jasmine rice, but my daughter convinced me to use the wild rice. I guess you can't win them all.