Let the autumnal cozy cooking commence with this recipe for Cozy Autumn Wild Rice Soup

Somehow, summer flew by, we moved homes, and the dust isn’t settling because our kitchen is under construction. But life is returning to a new normal — just in time for soup season. Fall is the best season, when the leaves turn into gorgeous colors, the air gets crisp in the mornings and we change the way we eat from grilled dinners to cozy braised foods and soups.

This week’s recipe is for a vegan soup that’s deliciously savory, satisfying and indeed perfectly cozy for autumn, just like its name: Cozy Autumn Wild Rice Soup. In my household, it’s usually all about the meat, but sometimes it’s good to have a vegan meal here and there. Lots of fresh veggies and wild rice in a base of stock and coconut milk make this soup flavorful, and you won’t miss the meat. But if you need to add some, I’d suggest rotisserie chicken. I’ve included the slow cooker version because that’s how I’m currently cooking with a torn up kitchen, but there are stove top and Instant Pot versions of the recipe available online.

While your soup is simmering, consider attending an Empty Bowls Wichita event during the next couple of weeks. Empty Bowls is a worldwide, grassroots initiative designed to help feed the hungry in the community. These events are put on by artists and craftspeople to raise funds and bring awareness to hunger in the community.

The main event is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 22 at Wichita State University’s Woolsey Hall. Attendees purchase a handmade bowl, sample chilis and take their bowls home “as a reminder of all the people in the world that are hungry.” For more information about the events, visit Empty Bowls Wichita on Facebook, or go to KansasFoodBank.org. I cannot think of a more important cause. Feeding our bodies also feeds our souls.

Cozy Autumn Wild Rice Soup

6 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)

1 cup uncooked wild rice

8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium carrots, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

1 large (about 1 pound) sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 small white onion, peeled and diced

1 bay leaf

1 ½ tablespoons Old Bay seasoning

1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

2 large handfuls of kale, roughly chopped with thick stems removed

Fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

Slow cooker method:

Combine vegetable stock, wild rice, mushrooms, garlic, carrots, celery, sweet potato, onion, bay leaf and Old Bay seasoning in the bowl of a large slow cooker. Stir briefly to combine, then place the lid on the slow cooker.

Cook on high for 1 to 2 hours, until the rice is cooked and tender. (Test the rice at one hour to see if it’s close to being tender. The variance is due to different slow cookers. Add an extra cup of stock if the rice cooks too quickly and soaks up all the stock.

Add final ingredients. Add the coconut milk and kale to the soup and stir gently until combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper (plus any extra Old Bay seasoning, if you would like) as needed. Serve warm and enjoy.