I know cream of mushroom soup is the Southern cooks’ stand-by.

However, if you are looking to improve your health by watching what you eat, I invite you to take a look at this recipe which employs my version of the canned soup in a much healthier way.  You get to learn a new trick that will do your arteries a big favor while improving the taste of your dishes that call for the old faithful can. The addition of the kale further amps up the good-health scale.
Gardening is going great and I am still harvesting asparagus, kale, chard, onions and parsley.  The summer crops are happy with the rainfall and my garden is promising to be the best one in years.

2  cups wild rice blend
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 pound kale, washed, stemmed and chopped
6 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, cut into small dice
1 pound baby Bella mushrooms, washed and sliced
2 carrots, washed and grated
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup half and half
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup plain Panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. chopped, fresh parsley
(Serves 12)

Place rice in saucepan with 5 cups broth, bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until rice is just tender and broth is absorbed. Set aside. (Some boxed  wild rice blends take only 15 minutes to cook so follow box instructions if using).
Heat a large pot of boiling, salted water. Add kale and cook until bright green and crisp, tender. Drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. When cool, drain, squeeze excess water and set aside.
Heat butter over medium heat, in the pan you cooked the kale in. Add onions and mushrooms and sauté until tender. Add carrots and cook one more minute.  Sprinkle in flour and stir or whisk to incorporate. Stir in remaining 3 cups of broth, bring to simmer and cook, whisking until thickened, about, 3-4 minutes. Stir in half and half and heat through. Remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together rice, kale and veggie sauce. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.  Place in a greased 13 x 9 inch casserole.  Top with Panko crumbs spritzed with olive oil. Cover with foil, bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until crumbs are golden brown.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

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