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Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Many years ago, I came across a recipe for a super-yummy chicken and wild rice soup.  I loved pretty much everything about it, except for that the seasonings came with the box of wild rice, which meant lots of MSG and other ingredients that I did not necessarily want.  After discussing this with a friend recently, she sent me a similar-sounding recipe to the one I liked, but without all of the unwanted ingredients.  I modified it to become a stove top version of the soup (rather than a slow-cooker version) and I really enjoyed it!  Served with a piece of hearty sourdough bread (topped with smidge of butter, of course), it is perfect for cold, wintry days.  While we are hopefully on our way to warmer temperatures, keep this recipe in mind for days when you want to curl up with a bowl of cozy, comforting goodness.  Also, I do not mind the extra fat from the whole milk and half & half, but if that is a concern to you, you can certainly lighten it up by replacing the half & half with the equivalent of a lower-fat milk (just know, that it won't have quite as much of the 'creaminess' factor).  

2 to 3 cups of cooked, diced chicken 
7 to 8 c chicken stock 
1 1/2 c wild rice, uncooked
2 TBSP oil
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 stalks of celery, sliced thinly 
2 c cemini mushrooms, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 to 2 bay leaves
1 bag frozen green beans (or about 2-3 c of fresh green beans, washed and trimmed) 
1/2 stick butter
1/2 c flour
1 c whole milk
1 c half & half
2 TBSP fresh parsley, for garnish 
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (Note: I always use homemade chicken stock, so be sure to add extra salt than if using store-bought stock)

In a large stockpot, over low-medium-heat, add the oil.  Once hot, add the garlic, carrots, celery, and onion; cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until the vegetables become tender.  Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, thyme, and rosemary.  Increase to medium-high heat and once bubbling, add the uncooked wild rice.  Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the rice becomes tender.  Reduce heat back to low-medium and add the cooked chicken, sliced mushrooms,and green beans.  While this continues to simmer, in a separate sauce pan, heat the butter over low-medium heat.  Make a roux by adding the flour; whisk and heat for about 1-2 minutes, then gradually add in the milk and half & half.  While continuing to whisk, allow this mixture to cook and thicken, which will take about 5-7 minutes.  Once done, add this mixture to the large stockpot and stir to incorporate throughout the soup.  Continue simmering until the green beans are tender.  Salt and pepper to taste and garnish with the fresh parsley, if desired. 

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