I love reading cookbooks and food magazines so much – they are like novels to me. Some of the most enjoyable aspects of this hobby is reading the narrative behind how each recipe or article is inspired. I have a lot of ‘ah-hah’ moments as I read through a vintage cookbook or modern cookbooks. The new techniques that have been developed or the old tried and true methods that have long been forgotten are exciting tidbits to incorporate into my day-to-day cooking or baking. This is precisely what happened the other day when I was researching gluten-free thickening techniques. I came across this recipe, which has a very unique technique. I have rewritten the recipe to simplify it (reducing the number of pots and pans used) and I also added bacon and aromatic vegetables. I think that you will find this recipe for Bacon, Mushroom and Toasted Brown Rice Soup with Aromatic Vegetables to be a hearty, flavourful and very satisfying soup.
Experience from my culinary training and working in a high volume restaurant environment has taught me to read a recipe from beginning to end before I start. This is a process that I emphasized to my apprentices as it serves several purposes. You should be asking yourself a number of questions:
- Does the recipe make sense as you read it through to the end?
- Do the steps in the method flow easily from the ingredient list? I often find that the ingredients are out of order from the steps in the instructions.
- Do I have all of the ingredients before I start?
- What is the yield of the recipe? How many servings/portions?
- What is the amount of time required to make it (in my work, it often meant starting certain components of a dessert two or three days ahead).
- Can I make any part of this recipe ahead?
- Do all the steps in the method/instructions make sense?
This particular recipe is a prime example of why you need to ask these important questions. You will note as you read the recipe that this soup uses brown rice in two ways – firstly, as a wholesome soup ingredient and secondly, as a toasted pulverized rice powder (See Method – Step 1 below and Chef Talk). The toasted rice powder is added as a natural thickening agent to the rich broth as it simmers.
I used two different varieties of mushrooms: fresh Cremini mushrooms, which have a pleasant meaty flavour, and dried shiitake mushrooms, which provide a depth of earthy flavour and distinctive shape when sliced for the soup.
As additional flavour boosters, I started the soup base with bacon lardon, cooked until crispy and set aside for garnish. The aromatic vegetables were then cooked in the flavourful fat, followed by the addition of a rich flavourful broth that included the soaking liquid from the dried mushrooms.
Mushroom and Brown Rice Soup with Vegetables
Yield: 8 – 10 portions
CHEF TALK: The thickening technique for this soup is brilliant – ¼ cup of the brown rice is toasted, and then it is pulverized in a spice grinder into a fine powder, which is simmered into the soup broth. I used organic basmati brown rice for this recipe. Don’t forget to save the liquid from the dried mushrooms – it is very flavourful! This soup is gluten-free and dairy-free and can easily be made vegetarian by eliminating the bacon (substitute vegetable oil for the bacon fat) and use vegetable or mushroom broth instead of chicken broth. Enjoy!
- ¾ cup uncooked brown rice (divided: 1/2 cup in soup, ¼ cup toast separately)
- 3 slices bacon, sliced into lardons (this is easier if the bacon is partially frozen)
- 1 oz. (30 g) dried shiitake mushrooms
- ¾ lb. (340 g) Cremini mushrooms, diced small
- 1 medium onion, diced small
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks celery, diced small
- 1 large carrot, diced small
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) Worcestershire sauce
- 6 cups (1.5 litre) homemade chicken broth or store-bought
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) dry sherry to finish, optional
- Salt and Pepper seasoned to your taste
- Parsley, ¼ cup chopped
- Sour cream, optional
Using Toasted Brown Rice Powder as a Gluten-Free Thickening Agent
- Preheat a large Dutch oven to medium-high heat. Add the ¼ cup of the brown rice and cook until the grains of rice are lightly toasted. This will take about 3 minutes (the rice grains will crackle and pop). Put the toasted rice grains in a spice grinder and pulverize until fine. Set this aside until step 7.
- Place the dried shiitake mushrooms in a measuring cup and add 1 cup of boiling water. Leave the mushrooms to rehydrate for five to ten minutes while you cook the bacon. Once they are rehydrated, slice the shiitake caps into ¼ inch slices. Reserve the mushroom soaking liquid. CHEF TIP: Strain the mushroom liquid through a coffee filter to capture any grit or unwanted particles.
- In the same preheated Dutch oven, place the bacon lardons and cook until the lardons are crispy. Set the bacon lardons aside in a small bowl while you cook the vegetables. If you have more than 1 tablespoon of bacon fat in the pot, remove the excess and discard.
- Add the vegetables: onions, garlic, celery, carrot, and Cremini mushrooms and the reserved sliced shiitake mushrooms. Cook the vegetables for about two minutes, stirring until translucent.
- Add the tomato paste and the ½ cup of uncooked brown rice. Season the mixture well. Stir for a minute or so to cook out the tomato paste and to coat the rice grains.
- Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth and reserved mushroom soaking liquid, and the reserved bacon lardons.
- Stir the pulverized toasted rice powder into the broth.
- Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the brown rice is cooked and the soup has thickened. Check the soup for seasoning and adjust if necessary. (See below for Learning Tips: Tweaking)
- Finish the soup with sherry, if desired. (Mushrooms and sherry are a wonderful pairing of flavours).
- To Serve: serve the soup hot, garnished with chopped parsley and a dollop of sour cream.
- To Store: store the cooled soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The soup freezes well. If necessary, thin the soup with additional chicken, mushroom or vegetable broth.
You Might Also Enjoy these Urb’n’Spice Soups:
Please CLICK the link above to access my Urb’n’Spice LEARNING TIPS, which are listed alphabetically on the Learning Tips blog post under the following subheadings:
- TWEAKING – A Study in the Amendment of Flavour
If you try my recipe for Bacon, Mushroom and Toasted Brown Rice Soup with Aromatic Vegetables, please leave me a comment below with your feedback. Don’t forget to pin this recipe for later!
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