This creamy vegan wild rice soup is perfect for warming up on a chilly autumn day. It’s my favorite kind of comfort food: satisfying and full of flavor, but unexpectedly packed with nutrition! And for my fellow mushroom-avoiders, this soup is super savory without any fungi to be found. =]
I’ve been craving vegan wild rice soup ever since my cousin’s wedding earlier this month. Let’s just say that where my family lives in North Dakota, weddings have kegs at them. Among other things. And I had to drive 3 hours to the Minneapolis airport the next day, still feeling a wee bit of the effects of celebrating my cousin’s union in holy matrimony. There are not a lot of options for hangover-appropriate vegan comfort food in that area, so I stopped at the local cafe before I left. I ended up with sweet potato fries and a veggie wrap, which was actually great! However, I couldn’t stop eyeing the specials board, stating that cream of wild rice soup was the soup of the day. To my tired, dehydrated self, it sounded so, SO good. Of course, that soup wasn’t vegan or even vegetarian – but it still started a craving in me that never went away.
When I got back to Baltimore, it was in the 90’s and sunny, and 100% not soup weather. (That samosa soup – made in early September before the second coming of summer!) But I was ready with cashews soaking in the fridge, eagerly awaiting an appropriate day for a really hearty soup. So this past Thursday, when I woke up to pouring rain, I knew it was Time.
Wild rice is kind of an odd food, as it’s not actually a “rice” (like brown rice, etc.). It’s a grass that grows on water. Most of the United States’ wild rice crop is grown in and around Minnesota, which may have something to do with the wild rice soup being on special at a restaurant on the Minnesota border. 🙂 I found a small box of it in the rice and beans aisle at my regular grocery store, and it should be at most natural grocers. Sometimes you’ll find it sold mixed with other forms of (actual) rice. It is a bit pricey per pound, but a little goes a long way flavor-wise and so it’s common to use it as part of a rice mix. Wild rice is high in protein, fiber, lysine, and several vitamins and minerals. So it’s a great option for vegan diets. Unfortunately heavy cream and chicken stock are not!
Hence why I had to make my own vegan wild rice soup to feed my craving. I started with the classic aromatics, toasted a mixture of wild and brown rice, and then folded in a luscious, creamy base made from pureed white beans, potatoes and cashews. Because the wild rice has such a unique, nutty flavor that I wanted to let shine, I held back with the spices and just used salt, pepper, and a couple of ingredients to add umami. The result is an absolutely addictive, rich soup. It was EXACTLY what I was craving. 🙂
Update 12/22/14: I made this soup again last week with the addition of cauliflower instead of some of the cashews, and it came out really well! Check out the recipe notes for details.
Creamy Vegan Wild Rice Soup
This vegan wild rice soup is hearty and flavorful, but unexpectedly full of nutritious ingredients. Be sure to note that the cashews and brown rice need to soak in water overnight beforehand.
- 3/4 cup raw cashews soaked overnight and drained (see notes for a lower fat option)
- 1 medium potato cooked (it's fine to leave the skin on)
- 1 and 1/2 cups cooked white beans rinsed and drained (equal to 1 standard can)
- 1 tsp oil of choice (I used olive oil)
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 rib celery diced
- 1/2 cup wild rice
- 1/2 cup brown rice soaked overnight and drained
- 4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 tbsp white or yellow miso
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (or use 1 tbsp white wine vinegar or 1 tbsp lemon juice)
- 2 and 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup white wine (optional)
- 1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
- salt to taste
- fresh parsley and soup crackers (optional, for serving)
In a blender or food processor, combine the cashews, cooked potato (feel free to leave the skin on), and white beans until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. This may take a few minutes. Add some of the water or broth as needed to blend.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and celery, along with a sprinkle of salt, and stir. Continue cooking until softened, about 3 minutes.
Add the wild rice and brown rice and stir. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Add the rest of the broth/water, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a fast simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until wild rice is significantly softened.
Whisk the miso together with a bit of water to thin it out. Add it to the pot along with the vinegar, nutritional yeast, white wine if using, and black pepper.
Stir in the cashew, white bean and potato mixture. If you're not using a high-speed blender, you should pour the mixture into a mesh sieve first, using a spatula to push it through.
Continue to cook the soup at a steady simmer, stirring frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add more water or broth if needed, or to thin. Take the soup off the heat when the wild rice is done, approximately 15-30 minutes. This will depend on your preference for chewier vs. softer wild rice.
Season the soup to taste. This soup needs to be salted pretty aggressively to cut through the richness, but some vegetable broths are saltier than others, so just play it by ear.
I made a lower-fat version of this soup by reducing the raw cashews to 1/2 cup, and adding half of a small head of (cooked) cauliflower to the puree mixture. I like this version just as much, if not more! I suspect you could go as low as 1/3 cup of cashews.
This soup's consistency is really more like a 'stew' or 'chowder'. To make it thinner like a soup, just add more liquid.
This vegetarian wild rice soup is part of Vegan MoFo 2014 (which sadly, is almost over!). Learn about my theme, Legume Appreciation Month, here.
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