If you’ve ever made martinis at home before, chances are you have a bottle of vermouth sitting in the back of your fridge, slowly turning to vinegar.
Well, maybe you don’t. But I did! And that’s what inspired this recipe.
Even a quite dry vermouth is going to be a sweet alcohol compared to most, and I had a lot to get rid of. So I needed some extremely earthy, savory flavors that could ground all of that sweet tanginess. And boy, did this do the trick. I started with a base of my “creamy” chicken broth (which is just my regular chicken broth at a rolling boil instead of a low simmer, which emulsifies the fats and creates an opaque, thick stock), then went in with the vermouth and almost dirt-like (in a pleasant way?) flavors of paprika and shiitakes. After simmering that all together for a nice infusion, I knew I had something pretty special.
All I had to do was add the flavors of a basic soffritto (alliums/carrots/celery), a bit of spice, some chewy wild rice for texture, and the chicken itself. BOOM. An amazing, filling, hearty soup that comes together in under an hour.
You may have noticed a unique color to this soup (it was a real nightmare to photograph, lemme tell ya), which comes from a color deposit that one of my types of wild rice gives off. If you aren’t using a wild rice “mix”, and choose to opt for a simple black wild rice, then your broth will be more of an opaque, pale, golden “chicken broth” color. Not this reddish/brown I’ve got going on here.
As far as flavor notes go, I would suggest those who don’t love mushrooms, to eat this on the first day, right after making it. And those who looooove some strong mushroom flavor, eat it the second day. I cooked the mushrooms separately with the chicken, with ensures cooking them perfectly and getting a bit of browning on them; however, that doesn’t allow much time for a flavor infusion. Both Myles and I greatly preferred the soup on day 2.
Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Shiitakes and Vermouth
- 2 T+ 2 T olive oil
- 1 medium sized onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 5-6 large stalks of celery, diced
- 4 large carrots, diced
- 1 1/2 + 1/4 c. dry vermouth
- 6 c. chicken broth
- 1 c. wild rice mix (dry, uncooked)
- 1/4 t. cayenne pepper
- 1 t. thyme
- 1 t. paprika
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, washed and halved
- Salt to taste
In a large, heavy bottomed pot (I used my enameled dutch oven), bring 2 tablespoons of oil to medium-high heat. When the oil just starts to shimmer, add the diced onions and cook, stirring constantly, until they become fragrant and slightly translucent. Add garlic, and cook about 2 minutes more (if garlic is starting to brown at all, reduce heat). Next, add celery and carrots, then continue to sautee about 7-8 more minutes. Add 1 1/2 c. vermouth, chicken broth, wild rice mix, thyme, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, then stir and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover halfway (keep the pot’s lid at a tilt to allow some steam to escape), and let simmer about 25 minutes.
On a large, clean cutting board, liberally salt each side of each chicken thigh, and set aside. Bring a large cast iron skillet (or any heavy skillet) to medium-high heat and add the last 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the pan is very hot and oil is shimmering and smoking slightly, add chicken thighs. They should sizzle loudly, and may splash hot oil, so be cautious. Sear both sides of each thigh, then reduce heat to medium. Deglaze the skillet with the last 1/4 c. of vermouth, then add the halved shiitakes. Stir to ensure that nothing is sticking, then cover and let cook until chicken reads 165 F at the thickest part.
Once chicken is fully cooked, let rest for 10 minutes, then either slice or shred into bite-sized pieces. Add chicken, mushrooms, and any cooking liquid/sauce from the skillet into the large pot. Stir and let simmer for 5 minutes to allow flavors to infuse. Serve immediately, or let cool and refrigerate for up to three days. (Flavors are better the second day).