Venison wild rice soup

Recipe and photos by El Lower, Michigan Sea Grant GLANSIS Research Associate

This soup is perfect for those chilly spring days when the nights still get cold: a combination of venison, dandelion greens, and Great Lakes wild rice makes this recipe both fresh and filling. 

Dandelion greens are nutrient-rich, pleasantly bitter leaves that can be foraged from your (untreated) lawn this time of year or purchased at the grocery store, but feel free to use kale, collards, or other sturdy soup greens. This recipe also works well with beef (or mushrooms, as a vegetarian substitute) if you don’t have venison on hand. The soup in this particular photo is made with venison meatballs, which also work well but require more prep work and a little more care with cooking time: use what you’ve got on hand! 

A final note: this recipe has very little fat, so now’s a great time to break out any really nice, fancy olive oil you’ve got in the pantry and drizzle some on top of your soup when you serve it.

Venison wild rice soup


  • 1 lb venison stew meat (can use beef or mushrooms)
  • 1 large bunch dandelion greens, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium bulb of fennel, roughly diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 zucchini or yellow squash, diced
  • 1 cup Great Lakes wild rice, uncooked
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
  • Neutral oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt, black pepper, and hot pepper flakes
  • Good olive oil, to finish


  1. Salt the venison and brown it thoroughly in a little neutral oil in your soup pot, then remove it and set aside. Add the onions, fennel, and garlic and saute at medium-high heat for 5 minutes, then add zucchini and saute for another 3.
  2. Add broth and bring to a boil, then add venison, wild rice, oregano, and a few dashes of hot pepper flakes. Simmer until venison is tender and rice is cooked, about an hour.
  3. When meat and rice are ready, add chopped dandelion greens, lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a few more minutes until greens are wilted, then ladle into bowls, drizzle with good olive oil, and serve.

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