NORTHWOODS COOKS: Relish the hearty goodness of Minnesota wild rice

The Ojibwe name for "wild rice" is "manoomin ." This native food is important in American Indian culture and highly nutritious.

Homemade wild rice chicken soup is comfort food for a cool autumn day. Adobe stock.
Brent Hofacker -

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), wild rice harvesting season occurs between Aug. 15 and Sept. 30 in Minnesota. More than 1,200 lakes and rivers in 54 counties contain wild rice, with the highest concentrations of rice in Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Itasca and St. Louis counties.

Manoomin means “wild rice” in Ojibwe. In addition to being a traditional food source for Minnesota’s early inhabitants and an important part of American Indian culture, the DNR website says wild rice is an important food source for migrating waterfowl and provides habitat for fish, invertebrates and waterfowl broods.

Here are a few recipes to try from the Itasca West Recreational Area cookbook, “North Country Cooking,” along with a soup recipe from

Ruth Kruse’s Basic Wild Rice


Wash wild rice by running water through the rice in a wire strainer until water runs clear. Cover 1 cup wild rice with fresh water and soak several hours or overnight.

Heat 3 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt to boiling. Add 1 cup rice and lower the temperature until the water simmers slowly. Cover and cook rice for 30-45 minutes or until water is absorbed. Add butter to taste.

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

1/2 cup butter

1 finely chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup sliced carrots


1/2 pound fresh sliced mushrooms

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

6 cups chicken broth

2 cups cooked wild rice

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon mustard powder


1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup slivered almonds

3 tablespoons dry sherry

2 cups half-and-half

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion, celery and carrots and saute for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for 2 more minutes. Then add the flour and stir well. Gradually pour in the chicken broth, stirring constantly, until all has been added. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat to low and let simmer.Next, add the rice, chicken, salt, curry powder, mustard powder, parsley, ground black pepper, almonds and sherry. Allow to heat through, then pour in the half-and-half. Let simmer for 1 to 2 hours. (Note: Do not boil or your roux will break.)

Cora Winter’s Wild Rice Hamburger Casserole

1-1/2 pounds hamburger

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped green pepper

2 cups washed wild rice

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

1 soup can of water

Brown hamburger, add remaining ingredients and mix well. Bake in covered casserole about 2 hours at 350 degrees. Serves 4-6.

Marge Treppp’s Wild Rice Turkey Hotdish

Cut up cooked turkey in chunks. Cook 1-1/2 to 2 cups wild rice. Saute 1/2 cup chopped celery and 1/4 cup chopped onion. Add 1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted, or more to meat and rice. Season with salt and pepper and add celery and onion. Bake 20-25 minutes until flavor of cream of mushroom soup has blended. Serve with a salad and hot rolls.

Elly Fitzloff’s Wild Rice Casserole with Mushrooms

1 cup wild rice

1 package onion soup mix

1 pint half and half

1 can golden mushroom soup

8-ounce can mushrooms

1 can cream of celery soup

Soak wild rice overnight in enough water to cover. Drain rice in the morning. Mix all ingredients together and bake for one hour at 350 degrees.

Readers are invited to submit four to five of their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to or by mail to the Park Rapids Enterprise, 203 Henrietta Ave. North, Park Rapids, MN 56470 and they may appear in a future issue.

Related Topics: FOODRECIPES
Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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