With the weather getting cooler around here (for California anyway), I start looking for heartier meals to warm the house and everyone in it. Braises or stews warms the insides in a good, rib-sticking way, but on a week night there just isn't the time for that. Britt was also baking cookies so the ovens was already doing a fine job warming the house. I rummage the pantry and found a pack of Cheese Beer Wild Rice Soup mix and decided to give that a go.
The mix was sent from Minnesota by Britt's cousin a while back. I think on one of their visits out here I had made a smart remark about what Minnesotan food was. Roadkills and casseroles might have been involved in the joke, but when they went home, they sent this over and a sample of authentic Minnesotan cuisine. I don't stock a lot of beer at home, but I do like Red Stripe and keep a few in the garage (Hooray beer!). I figured the unique spice of the Red Stripe can only enhance the wild rice soup experience. Besides, bringing the cultures of Jamaica and the Great American North can't be a bad thing, right?
No matter how novel the final dish may be, this is still basically soup mix. 1 cup of beer and 6 cups of water, add mix and bring to a boil, then simmer for 40 minutes or so until the rice is tender. I was actually impressed with the amount of discernible vegetables in the mix. It wasn't ALL orange powder! While I waited I made a light pasta with diced tomatoes and olives for the kids since I wasn't sure if they would approve of the soup.
In the end, the soup was pretty good. I like wild rice soup in general, especially on a cold winter night. The beer added another level of flavor that worked very well with the salty cheesy taste (it was almost like eating cheese puffs while drinking beer). I suppose we can score one for Minnesotan cuisine. If any hockey moms out there want to send over whatever hot dish you think represent the midwest taste best, I'll be happy to try that as well.