It is not dairy-free, or vegetarian, or vegan. Three things it could be should you wish to eliminate the milk and butter, substitute vegetable stock, or eliminate the milk and butter and substitute vegetable stock. It would still be good in all those instances, but this is how I liked it best.
This is a good weeknight soup to have when your weekends are slammed with calorie-laden Christmas parties and you’re feeling more like Santa Claus and less like Hanukkah Harry (I’m guessing he’s a bit slimmer). It’s not comfort-food, but feel good food, especially when it is cold and snowy outside, which I am pleased to announce that is one thing it is not here in North Dakota.
I love the texture and flavor of black rice, but you could use barley, brown rice, or farro. Just choose a grain that has some bite and doesn’t easily get soft and soggy.