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How to describe this incredible, unusual chowder? Kind of a blend between Southwestern and “Up North,” this hearty, creamy delectable meal in a bowl is a family favorite. A quick note: while it’s wonderful with smoked turkey, I often use left over turkey or chicken in this soup and it is every bit as good.

Wild Rice and Smoked Turkey Chowder

Wild Rice and Smoked Turkey Chowder

When my son was small, he didn’t want to try this – he didn’t like “soup.”  I explained this was not a soup, but a chowder, and he fell in love with it. Imagine how happy I was to get all these vegetables into him from this wonderfully healthy soup.

Smoked Wild Rice Turkey chowder has just a bit of a “bite” from the small bit of jalapeno, just a little “sumpin sumpin” that makes you want to come back for more. If you’re in doubt, leave it out, but if you love heat, by all means feel free to increase. We love this soup, too, with a small drizzle of balsamic vinegar – the good stuff.

This is an easy soup to make, but there are a couple of steps involved, the longest being the cooking (45 to 55 minutes) of the wild rice. I maximize my efforts by making the most of my time in the kitchen:

  • I double or even triple the recipe and freeze part of the Wild Rice Smoked Turkey Chowder for another meal. We really like it that much!
  • I usually cook the whole bag of wild rice at one time and freeze it in portions, small ones for side dishes at a later time and some portioned to make this soup.
  • I make extra of the sweet potato, bell pepper and corn sauté and use it for a lovely side dish, with or without wild rice. It’s wonderful with a little balsamic.
  • I often make this with left over turkey from our Thanksgiving meal: I’ll think about it while I’m cooking and chop a little extra celery when I make my stuffing, cook a little extra wild rice when I make my wild rice side dish, buy a little extra corn, peel and dice some sweet potato for this while I’m making my sweet potato casserole, and so on.

Because of the low-cost, there is certainly money left over for a crunchy baguette along side. Using my strategies, I made this hearty soup for a little under four dollars, check below to see how I did it.

The sautéed sweet potato/bell pepper/corn mixture makes a wonderful side dish on its own

The sautéed sweet potato/bell pepper/corn mixture makes a wonderful side dish on its own, with or without the addition of wild rice

Wild Rice and Smoked Turkey Chowder, serves 6

  • 2 parsnips, peeled & roughly chopped1 large russet potato, roughly chopped, no need to peel
    1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 small seeded
  • 4 cups chicken broth, or turkey broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper, set aside a very small bit for garnish
  • 1 small sweet potato, finely diced, about 3/4 cup; this, to us, has a strong taste in the soup, and we add a bit less
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely diced
  • 3/4 cup corn
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice, save a bit for garnish
  • 1 cup smoked turkey breast or chicken, or left over turkey or chicken. If not using a smoked poultry, add a few drops of Liquid Smoke to the soup. About 6 to 8 ounces.
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon

Start your wild rice, unless it’s already precooked - it will take 45 to 55 minutes start to finish.

To cook wild rice, use 2x the water as the rice. Bring the water to a boil, add rice, bring back up to a boil. Lid, and turn down to a simmer. Cook about 45 – 55 minutes. When finished, there should be a good chew to the wild rice, and very few should have broken open and curled. You may have to strain excess liquid. (I save this liquid, see notes below under strategies.)

While the rice is cooking, add parsnips, potatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno and chicken broth to a large pot and simmer 30 minutes till tender, then puree. If it’s very fibrous, strain, but I’ve never run into this problem. I imagine you might find this with large, older parsnips, and if that’s the case, just chop them smaller before putting them in the pot.

Wipe the pot clean and return the pureed vegetable/stock mixture to the pot after it is blended.

While you’re cooking the above, heat butter and saute celery, peppers, sweet potato and corn, about 10 minutes on each side. The vegetables, when done, should be soft and slightly browned in spots. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add to the vegetable/stock mixture.

Add the rest of ingredients: milk, chicken or turkey, cooked wild rice, Worcestershire, salt and pepper to taste, and simmer a few minutes to blend flavors. Do not boil. Remember to set aside a small bit of wild rice if you’d like to garnish.

Garnish with a small bit of the wild rice and red pepper, if desired.

Notes:

  • During the cooking process, you may be doubtful as you smell the onion, potato, parsnip, and jalapenos cooking – soldier on, it will be wonderful in the end.
  • If you don’t have already cooked turkey or chicken, cook it in the chicken broth along with the parsnips, potatoes, garlic and onion. Of course, remove before blending!
  • There have been times when I’ve smoked my turkey or chicken for this Smoked Turkey & Wild Rice Chowder, and times I’ve used left over smoked turkey or chicken, and it lends a wonderful flavor.
  • I’ve also gone to the the deli and asked them to cut me a slice about a 1/2 inch thick, then diced it and used it. Make sure it’s on sale – deli meat is pricey.
  • I often make Wild Rice and Smoked Turkey Chowder with regular turkey or chicken and added just two or three drops of liquid smoke (an all natural ingredient.) I do really like to keep it on hand for recipes like this or for recipes like bean soups when I’m using smoked meat.
  • I don’t like to substitute regular rice in this soup: it get’s gummy and strange left over.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my Strategies – You’ll see them all explained on the upper left tab of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Strategies Applied

First of all, this soup freezes beautifully. I always make extra and freeze for another time. The sautéed corn, sweet potato, celery and pepper actually make a gorgeous side dish and sometimes I’ll double that and freeze some of it (short-term) with or without the addition of wild rice.

There are several other ingredients in this soup that can be made ahead, or used in a left over state: sweet potatoes (if you’re making this after a holiday where you’re serving a casserole, purchase a bit extra.) Corn – if you’re serving corn and have some left over, use it in this casserole.

  • 004Wild Rice:  Look for it on sale around Christmas and Thanksgiving. If you don’t live “up North” request it if you visitors from there- the price difference is amazing in different parts of the country, although it’s more widely available in the past few years with the advent of commercial wild rice. I’ll cook up the whole box or bag at once, then ziplock and freeze. It’s really easy, then, to make my own rice blends, add to vegetables, waffles, bread, etc. Dry, wild rice keeps nearly forever in your pantry, too, so don’t be afraid to pick up a larger bag if it’s on sale. Cost $1.40
  • You’ll also find different grades of wild rice: the perfect whole grains are more expensive, and quite elegant, but don’t have any more flavor than the lesser grades that perhaps have some broken grains. If perfect isn’t your goal, get the cheaper stuff! By the way, there is often left over liquid when cooking wild rice. I save this  and use it as a part of the stock when I make a deep, earthy soup like Beef Barley.  I usually end up with about a cup or two – I reduce it down to 1/2 cup and label and freeze – with a note saying how much water is needed to bring it back to the original amount. If you have leftover wild rice from a holiday dinner, it would be wonderful in this dish.
  • Smoked Turkey:  See my notes in the recipe. I often think about this soup if I’m smoking a turkey and set some aside. If I’m smoking anything else, it’s worthwhile to throw on a nice bone in chicken breast (which can be frozen after smoking) to use in this soup. I often use just plain old leftover turkey or chicken in this recipe and add a touch of Liquid Smoke. Not sure how to calculate that cost, so I’ll guess 35 cents since my turkey was 68 cents a pound. I used about 8 ounces.
  • Parsnips:  They add a bit of a sharp bite, and really are dirt cheap, like most of the root vegetables. I wouldn’t leave them out for the world. Cost: 40 cents. If you haven’t cooked with parsnips, this is a great “starter” recipe.
  • Potatoes: Potatoes are dirt cheap – look for a great sales price of $1.99 for 10 pounds in the fall and winter; regular sales price is $1.99 for five pounds in my area. Store in a cool dry area, not near your onions – I like to store in a loosely closed paper bag.Don’t know what to do with a large bag? Make what recipes you’d like to, then make Freezer Twice Baked Potatoes with the rest. I often pick out the smaller, misshaped potatoes for mashing and save the more regular sized ones for baking or other recipes. Cost for this recipe: 10 cents.
  • Onion: They keep well, so try to buy on sale. Aldi’s is a good place to find reasonably priced onions. Always less expensive in the fall/winter months, the pricing in my area runs from 33 to 66 cents a pound. Store them in a dark, cool place but not near potatoes. If you’ve bought too many onions, don’t let them go bad.
  • Slice or dice them, saute and portion into ziplocs labeled “onions” and freeze. You’ve just saved yourself a step for next time you make a dish. If you have enough, consider making French Onion Soup. If you use half an onion, consider if you can sauté the rest and put it in a Ziploc in the freezer. If not store in the door where you’ll see it when you’re cooking next. One onion (at 56 cents a pound) about 17 cents.
  • Garlic:  I look for a price of about $2.99 a pound, or about 54 cents a head. Check the pricing of the bulk per pound as opposed to the packaged. I never really find it on sale, but I use so much, I pay attention and buy a bit more when I see the price is lower. Cost for 2 cloves, around 3 cents.
  • Jalapeno:  They can very widely in price per pound. Luckily they’re small – cost 23 cents.
  • Chicken Stock:  If you read me regularly, I make my own with scraps of vegetables and bones – here’s the basic recipe I use for Best Turkey or Chicken Stock - it’s not particular and though it simmers for a long time, the burner is barely on – I just count it as free.
  • Butter: A bit of a splurge, cost and calorie wise – but for taste and health, I’d rather use real butter than trans fat laden margarine or oils. Yes – they do have trans fat, even if the label says they don’t. Harvard, for instance, says unequivocally: The key to a healthy diet is to substitute good fats for bad fats and to avoid trans fat.” While butter isn’t a healthy fat, many feel that trans fat is worse than saturated.Buy on deep specials, often around the holidays with store coupons. I shoot for $2.50 a pound and freeze, where it stays fine for months. Cost for this recipe: 2 tablespoons, 16 cents.
  • Bell Pepper:  There are two types of sales, per pound or per pepper. I usually look for the per pepper pricing; in my area it’s generally cheaper – I’ll then buy the biggest, most gorgeous ones I can find. The peppers are often bagged and sold by a unit price, too. A really good price in our area is about a fifty to seventy cents a pepper for the red, yellow or orange ones, and 40 to 75 cents for the green bell. 1/2 a pepper, 48 cents.
  • Sweet potato:  Seasonal now in the fall, they drop in price drastically before  Thanksgiving. They run between 49 at a low, and up, with a good sales price of about 69 cents a pound. I used about 1/2 cup, so the cost for this recipe is 35 cents. If you have leftover sweet potato, you could add it instead if it’s not too soft; go ahead and saute it for the nice char. Maybe if you’re making a sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving, you’ll just want to set aside a bit of sweet potato for this dish.
  • Celery: generally inexpensive, but does go on sale from time to time, so I buy extra when it does. Celery keeps so well, there’s no reason to not buy when it’s not on sale. Remember to use your leaves, they’re full of flavor, and if you don’t use them in your cooking, save them, along with the bottom parts for soup or stock.  Always wash your celery extremely well. To keep longer, slip a plastic bag loosely over the exposed top of the celery. A good price in my area is 98 cents a sleeve, with about 15 or so stalks in a sleeve. Cost for this dish: 8 cents.
  • Corn:  Fresh corn is best in the summer, when sales run around 17 to 20 cents an ear, but in the winter frozen is reasonable. Buy on sale with a coupon – mine was free, but 30 cents a pound is not unreasonable. Cost 0. Left over corn will be just fine if you have it.
  • Milk:  About $2.50 a gallon in my area on sale, the cost for this recipe runs about 18 cents. Buy on sale – unopened it keeps a bit past it’s “sale by” date – then you can pick up one for the beginning of the week, and another at the end of the week for the week following.Be careful with your milk, and even opened it will last a lot longer – pour, lid and put away, don’t bring it to the table or leave it on the counter while you eat dinner or down your cereal and you’ll notice it stay fresh last MUCH longer. We’ve cut way back on dairy, as most health experts suggest – putting it away helps with that, too. Cost for 1/2 cup, about 8 cents.
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste – last bought at $.79, but I often purchase for free, with a coupon and a good sale during the summer months. Many condiments reach an all time low during the summer sales (and during Super Bowl week) and are often pennies or no cost with sales and coupons. Even if you have to pay for the sauce, the cost is negligible.

Nutrition:

This is just chock full of vitamins, calcium, antioxidents and fiber – it’s hard to find a better meal.

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 303 Calories; 9g Fat (25.9% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 38g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 40mg Cholesterol; 606mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1 Fat.

Put Your own Spin on It: 

  • Try serving this with a crusty baguette on the side, or if you’re a baker, wild rice parmesan bread sticks would be fantastic.
  • A swirl of balsamic on the top would be interesting.
  • You could certainly vary any vegetables you’d like – it you’ve never tried parsnips, this is a great way to introduce them.

My Pay Off:

  • When I double this soup and the vegetables, I get two soups, one for the freezer and one to eat. If you’ve cooked the whole bag of wild rice, don’t forget the precooked wild rice packets you’ve frozen as well as the lovely broth it leaves behind (about 2 cups or so – reduced down to about 1/2 cup so it fits in the freezer.) And if you doubled your sweet corn, sweet potato, pepper and celery portion of the ingredients, you’ll have several sides to put in the freezer!
  • The best pay off?  This dish is incredibly healthy!
  • One hour and ten of cooking,- (Which I was doing, anyway) 2 meals, 2 sides, several packets of wild rice and a bit of that incredible broth, all ready to put away in fridge and freezer:

Wild Rice and Smoked Turkey Chowder made November, 2011 for $3.83; repriced February 2014 for $3.78

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