Autumn Soup of Wild Rice, White Beans, and Olives

December 22, 2011 at 12:01 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Beans, Fall recipes, Rebecca Wood, soup, Spring recipes, Winter recipes) ()

It seems to be soup season around here.  I picked this recipe (from Rebecca Wood’s cookbook The Splendid Grain) because it called for wild rice, which I almost never use.  Wood says that the flavors in this soup are from the mountains of central Greece, and that the soup has “stellar colors and flavors…. a fantastic play of sweet, sour, salty, and pungent”.   It’s not Autumn any more, but I had a jar of roasted bell peppers in the pantry, and all the other ingredients are reasonably wintery.  If you’re not using jarred bell peppers then you should prepare the peppers a day in advance to give them time to marinate.  


  • 2 roasted, peeled, seeded, vinaigrette-marinated bell peppers (ideally one red and one yellow–see below)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil (preferably Greek)
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 cups steamed wild rice (see below)
  • 1 cup cooked large white beans (I used 1.5 cups cannellini beans)
  • 6 cups rich vegetable stock (I used water)
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh oregano
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh savory, thyme, or rosemary (I used a mix of thyme and rosemary)
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 12 Greek Amphissa olives, pitted (or use kalamata olives)

For the wild rice:

  • 2/3 cup wild rice
  • 2 tsp. unsalted butter or unrefined sesame oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 1/2 – 2  1/4 cups of water

Instructions for the rice:

  1. Put the wild rice in a bowl of cold water, scrub lightly between the palms of your hands for about 5 seconds, and pour the rice into a strainer to drain.
  2. Combine the water, butter, and salt in a heavy saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.  Add the rice and return to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until some kernels have pulled and split open with the pale inner core visible and most of the liquid has been absorbed.  Remove from the heat and let steam, covered, for 10 minutes.
  3. The amount of water needed will depend on the source of the grain and how it was processed.  For this recipe it’s probably easiest to just use the large amount of  water and pour any unabsorbed liquid into the soup.

Instructions for the soup:

  1. Heat 2 Tbs. of oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the leek, carrot, and celery and saute for 5 minutes, or until soft.
  2. Add the rice, beans, stock, oregano, 1 Tbs. of the savory, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  3. Drain the peppers and add to the soup.  Stir in the olives.
  4. Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Garnish with the remaining savory.
Serves 4.
For the peppers (roast, peel, seed, marinate for 8 hours):
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

My notes:

This soup was beautiful indeed, despite the fact that I used all red and no yellow peppers.  I also really liked the mix of different flavors.  I didn’t detect too many pungent flavors (maybe a little from the olives), but the sweet, sour, and salty flavors all came through well.  This soup would make a nice one pot dinner, since it has vegetables, beans, and starch from the wild rice.  Although you have to cook the rice separately, I’d even consider it a quick and easy weeknight recipe if you use jarred peppers and have cooked beans on hand.

Rating: B+

Derek: B


  1. Talula said,

    Thank you for the recipe. I never cook with half the things in this recipe, so it was nice to try a new mix. I cooked the wild rice in the broth/beans/vegetables, which worked out well. Next time I will use more liquid and olives.

    • captious said,

      Oh, interesting pot- and time-saving idea. The vegetables and beans didn’t get overcooked? How long did it take before the rice was ready?

      • Talula said,

        Nothing got overcooked, but the dish didn’t store well. The rice got too soggy after about a day. In the future I wouldn’t cook them together unless I planned to eat it all right away.

        I’m not sure how long I cooked everything for. I tend to cook on the fly. It would be hard for me to keep a cooking blog!

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