I’m delighted when friends share favorite recipes with me. I have files (No joke. Files—as in plural) that are stuffed full of epicurean concoctions that were sent, e-mailed, clipped, and copied for me. Those who know me best know that gifting me with treasured recipes, tried and true, fills me with joy and appreciation! I love to cook. Simply adore it. It is one of my blissful passions, and I’m always on the hunt to find new recipes.
Recently, a friend shared a recipe for Nutty Wild Rice Soup. Sounded intriguing; toasted pecans, chicken, wild rice and even cranberries. I had to give it a whirl! After all, I’d never thrown cranberries or nuts into a soup pot before. New, unexpected combinations get my heart pumping and make me feel just a wee bit giddy.
Now, I’ll confess, I do have a few of those regular standbys I tend to default to—Mexican Stroganoff, Marinated Flank Steak, Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. Problem is, sometimes I find myself in a “cooking rut”—chopping and stirring on autopilot; making the same eats week to week, month to month. If I’m stuck making identical dishes over and over again I get bored. I feel unchallenged, and downright uninspired. Same is true for those around me. My kids are the first to cue me in by whining, “But Mooooooom…are we having that again?” Trying something new, on the other hand, adds a touch of excitement, adventure, creativity and intrigue. My family perks up and takes notice as the aroma of something deliciously new comes wafting from the oven, or from the sizzling stove.
Cooking, for me is becoming a metaphor for life. Like cooking, in life we sometimes get in the habit of doing the same old, same old over and over again. We settle for being bored, uninteresting, humdrum, or flavorless. We convince ourselves it’s easier to go with what we know instead of trying something unfamiliar or untried. When someone’s in a rut it’s likely to be viewed as a negative. As a Life Coach, when one of my clients is stuck, it’s often easy to find a positive spin. In fact, many times being in a rut only means you’re ready for something new and you’re on the verge of your next big change. Perhaps you’re tired of living a life that is merely normal (like meatloaf), and are more ready than ever to toss a few cranberries (or nuts!) into the mix. Maybe for you, it’s time to stir up the pot! What are some of the new flavors that your “life recipe” is craving? Is it time for you to taste something exotic, spicy, tangy or sweet? What are the ingredients you might want to try that will add some new flavors? Exercise, oil painting, photography? Expanding your social network? Changing your diet or your daily routine? Travel? Romance? Adventure? Come on—take a chance! Spice things up a bit. Choose something different. Create a new recipe. Chances are it’ll taste EXRTRAORDINARY! In the meantime, I’ll share my new soup recipe with you for a dash of added inspiration.
Nutty Wild Rice Soup
2/3 C uncooked wild rice
1C pecans or walnuts
1/4 C green onions, sliced thinly
2 cloves of garlic minced
8 C chicken stock
2 T tomato paste
2/3 C fresh cranberries, chopped
2 C chicken or turkey , cooked and cut into bite-size pieces
2T cornstarch dissolved in 3T water
2 T dry sherry
salt & pepper to taste
(I also added thin chopped celery for color and crunch)
Rinse wild rice in hot water until water runs clear; drain well. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat and toss in nuts when butter is sizzling. Saute until crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove nuts & reserve. In the same pan, stir wild rice, green onion, celery, and garlic and saute over medium heat for 10 minutes until wild rice is toasted. Pour in chicken stock, stir in tomato paste and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, simmer 30 minutes. Stir in cranberries, reserved nuts and meat pieces and continue to simmer 10-15 minutes. Finally increase heat to medium-high and stir in cornstarch mixture to thicken. Stir in sherry. Season generously to taste. Yields 6-8 servings. Absolutley delicious!