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Wild Rice Soup

Monday, November 21st 2022 6:00 am

Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients: (makes 8 servings - 2 cups each)
3 C water
1 C wild rice (manoomin)
6 C butternut squash: peeled, seeded, cubed OR 2 1/2 lbs
3/4 C diced onion
3 T olive oil
4 C vegetable broth
1 C milk
2 C home-cooked or canned Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in wild rice and simmer, covered, for 40-45 minutes or just until kernels puff open.
  3. While rice cooks, put squash on a baking sheet. Stir in 1 T oil and 1 tsp salt. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. In a medium saute pan, heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat. Add onions. Stir and cook for 5 minutes or until translucent, but not brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. When squash is tender, set aside one-half of it. Cook the remaining squash for another 15 minutes or until mashable. Add to a large soup pot and mash.
  6. To the soup pot, add broth and milk. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Uncover rice, fluff with a fork, and simmer an additional 5 minutes, if still wet.
  8. Add rice and the squash you set aside to the soup pot. Add beans, onions, pepper and ½ tsp salt. Mix and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
  9. Stir all ingredients together. Taste and adjust for seasoning before serving.

Variations:  add sausage, chicken, turkey or mushrooms. Substitute nut milk, carrots for squash.

Black pepper was brought in by European settlers. It has been added to this recipe to accommodate common tastes. One pound of uncooked wild rice measures about 2 2/3 cups and will yield about 8 to 10 cups cooked. When cooking wild rice, plan on using 3 to 4 cups of liquid for every cup of uncooked rice. Rinse the rice first to remove any debris. 1 cup uncooked wild rice = 3 to 4 cups cooked wild rice. Wild rice can be served hot, warm or cold; for breakfast, in salads, stuffing, breads and more.

Wild rice is a wonderfully balanced food, providing protein and fiber. A serving of wild rice contains fewer calories and double the protein content of brown rice. It contains the micronutrient Manganese, an antioxidant,and plays a role in keeping your cells healthy. Quinoa (another indigenous grain native to South American Incans) is similar to wild rice in terms of nutritional benefits.

Wild Rice (Manoomin) has been used within American Indian communities, such as the Ojibwe (or Chippewa) and Menominee, for thousands of years. Menomonee  in Algonquin means “people of the rice.” It was and continues to be a staple in traditional diets and its harvest is full of gratitude, reverence and ceremony. American Indians continue to nurture the crop, a sacred food. Today’s Ojibwe descend from the Algonquins of what is now the eastern US and SE Canada who faced troubles with European settlers. Legend says they were told go west to find the “food that grows on water.” The discovery of the “good berry” or wild rice was the answer to prayer and sustained their people in a new land.

Wild rice is actually a grass native to North America, mainly in the Great Lakes region. It grows in shallow lakes and streams. When processed by traditional ways, it lasts for many seasons, providing food security. There are now 70 major rice fields around Wisconsin alone.Today, traditional rice fields are challenged by warming waters and contamination by mining and other industrial run-off. The fight to stop oil pipeline 3 near the Bad River Reservation is an attempt to save the manoomin and other species vital to tribal members.

Watch a fascinating 33-minute video on the harvest and processing of Manoomin: Dancing the Wild Rice.

A very short PBS video Manoomin: Food that Grows on Water follows Fred Ackley Jr. from the Sokaogon Chippewa Community of Mole Lake as he harvests and processes manoomin, or wild rice which he calls "medicine". He explores the importance of prayer and tradition for cultural survival.

The information above comes from the American Indian Traditional Foods Wisconsin Farm to School Toolkit produced for use in USDA School meals programs by the Wisconsin State Department of Instruction.

The Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) has an informative Manoomin-Goodberry brochure about its nutritional value, detailed description of harvesting and how to find tribal retailers for traditional verses “paddy” grown manoomin.

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Native American Corn Hominy Soup

Tuesday, November 8th 2022 6:00 am

Hominy Corn Soup

3/4 pound pork loin chops, cubed (save the bones for the soup as well)
2 15.5 oz cans hominy, drained and rinsed
3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and diced
1 15.5 oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper


  1. In a large deep pot of salted water, bring the meat (and bones, if using) to a boil. Cook at a gentle boil for 45 minutes. This creates a flavorful broth.
    Add the hominy to the pot gently boil for another 45 minutes. In the meantime, boil the diced potatoes in a separate pot until fork tender, drain and cool to stop the cooking process.
    Add the cooled potatoes and beans to the soup mixture. Add up to 2 C of water to the soup until it is your desired consistency.
    Variations: Pork hocks, salt pork can be used. Omit or limit salt. You can also use chicken thighs and substitute stock instead of water.

First the chemistry, then the history and culture of hominy. Hominy is processed corn loved for its puffy, slightly chewy kernels. Hominy is the result of a long cooking process in which the mature dried flint (field) corn kernels are cooked with wood ash (aka lye) causing a chemical reaction called nixtamalization. A solution of lye (potassium hydroxide - which can be produced from water and wood ash) or of slaked lime (calcium hydroxide from limestone) is the first step. Next the husked are removed from the grains, rinsed and cooked again. Soaking the corn in lye kills the seed's germs, which keeps it from sprouting while in storage. Finally, in addition to providing a source of dietary calcium, the lye or lime reacts with the corn so that the nutrient niacin (B3) can be assimilated by the digestive tract. People consume hominy in intact kernels, grind it into sand-sized particles for grits, or into flour.  

This food and the process that allows it to be stored for years has been vital to the health and food culture of middle America. It honors their commitment to 7 generations. Many tribes strive to have a 3 year supply of dried corn on hand in case of drought or other hardship. Traders brought maize/corn along all their routes and today, it is often bartered and rarely sold.

Corn is a sacred food and bringing it from seed to table is a sacred process. Ceremonies using tobacco, drumming, songs, chants and blessings are a part of all involved. It is done with gratitude for the whole community. To see for yourself, watch the following videos showing Native people working with corn.

PBS Wisconsin: Wisconsin Foodie
Travel with Wisconsin Foodie to the Oneida Reservation outside of Green Bay, WI to meet Laura Manthe and Rebecca Webster, cousins and members of the Oneida Nation. They are part of a White Corn Growers Cooperative and are revitalizing an ancient heirloom food within the Oneida Nation, White Corn. You’ll notice their values, hard work and passion. Host Luke Zahn gets a personal tutorial on how to prepare White Corn Soup. “It is more than eating a bowl of soup. It feels like you are being woven into a very large story, a very beautiful story.” Watch it here:

CBS Docs: Stories from the Land
An Oneida chef and a knowledge keeper guide you through the traditional way of making Corn Soup. As we learn about the soup and how it’s made, we also learn about how the process is deeply rooted in the culture. From the way the corn is harvested, to the way hardwood ashes are used as part of the process, to the way the soup is distributed to the elders of the community as an acknowledgment of the work they do. All from a humble bowl of corn soup. Watch it here:

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