Naperville Eats: Start soup tradition with simple recipe
By Judy Buchenot For The Sun December 5, 2012 7:14PM
JoAnn Stuart measures ingredients for Minnesota Wild Rice Soup which she prepares for an annual soup supper with friends.
Wild Rice Soup
1/2 cup uncooked wild rice
2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 medium onion, minced
1 quart milk
2 10.75-ounce cans condensed cream of potato soup
1 pound Velveeta cheese
Prepare wild rice according to package directions. Wild rice often takes longer to cook than white rice so be sure to allow enough time.
While rice is cooking, sauté onions in butter until tender. Add water, milk and condensed soup. Cook over medium heat until hot, stirring occasionally. When mixture is hot, cut cheese into 1-inch chunks and add to soup. Stir and cook until melted. Stir carefully so cheese does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Once mixture is smooth and creamy, add cooked wild rice. Soup is ready to serve.
4 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1 cup thinly slice celery
1 cup diced, red skinned apples
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons vinegar
In a large bowl, combine cabbage, celery, apple, raisins and walnuts. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, milk, sugar, pepper and vinegar. Pour over cabbage mixture and toss. Cover and chill at least one hour. Garnish with additional apple slices if desired.
Updated: January 8, 2013 6:15AM
Entertaining guests in your home in today’s world often stirs images of exotic menus served at elaborate table settings thanks to the many televised cooking shows. But JoAnn Stuart knows that sometimes the best dish served is friendship.
About 30 years ago, Stuart and her husband, Dave, decided to ask Grant and Winnie Graver, their church pastor and his wife, to join their family for a soup dinner in December. The evening was so successful that it became an annual tradition.
As the Naperville couple’s four children grew older and left home, there were extra spaces available at the table, so they decided to invite a few widows and others from the church to join them. It has become an evening of fellowship that both the hosts and guests anticipate each December.
“We never have over 12 people,” Stuart says. “I keep the menu very simple — soup, salad, a crusty bread, some crackers and dessert. I usually have two kinds of soup. One is always Minnesota Wild Rice Soup, one of our favorites.”
Although the guests all belong to Grace United Methodist Church, Stuart says they try not to talk only about church issues.
“We catch up on each others lives and usually do some reminiscing about Christmas traditions. It always is a fun evening.”
Stuart feels that keeping the menu simple and the guest list small has helped keep the tradition going for so many years.
“I think that if I changed it and served lasagna, they wouldn’t like it,” she notes.
Stuart was first introduced to wild rice during a trip to Minnesota.
“We saw these people going out in canoes with big sticks. They would knock at these stalks that grow in the lake and the grains would fall into the bottom of the boat. They would then scoop up the wild rice from the bottom of the boat,” she explains.
The Native American Indians in Minnesota are believed to be the first to harvest and cook the wild rice that has been a staple in their diet for centuries. Most wild rice sold in today’s stores is cultivated and has a different color and flavor than the natural wild rice. Stuart purchases her hand-harvested natural wild rice from a Minnesota store.
“It is not cheap — about $12 a pound,” Stuart notes. “But the flavor is so unique. The rice is hard when you start, but as it cooks, it sort of pops open and become very soft. The flavor is very sweet and almost nutty. It has so much more flavor than white rice.”
In addition to using the natural wild rice in her soup, Stuart prepares it as a side dish.
“I like to mix in a few craisins and slivered almonds after it is cooked. It makes a very interesting dish for a meal.”
The annual soup dinner is just a few days away.
“Dave and I are 75 years old, and we are the youngest ones in the group,” Stuart says. “Dave sometimes goes and picks up those who can’t drive themselves. This year will be the first year without Winnie Graver. She passed away this year, and we will miss her.
“We hope to keep having this dinner as long as we can because it is such a wonderful tradition that means so much to us. Gathering around a table to share a meal with friends is so enjoyable.”
Stuart shares her recipe for Wild Rice Soup and a simple salad that others can use to start their own soup supper tradition.