The minute anybody in my house comes down with the slightest sniffle, I run to the store for ingredients for chicken soup. It’s the go-to cure-all around here!
The recipe I make is classic and very simple, but to get it ready even more quickly, I make it in the pressure cooker.
Pressure cooking in the Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker) reduces the cooking time a fair amount. Using an electric one also allows you to leave the pot unattended while it cooks. The cooker will even switch to a “Keep Warm” setting once cooking has finished so you don’t have to worry about turning off the cooker right away when the soup is done.
Just throw all the ingredients in the pot, press a button, and come back to piping hot soup later on!
I use a whole chicken for my soup for a few reasons: First, It’s the most economical way to go. Second, I like having a mix of white and dark meat. And third, all of the bones and cartilage help to create a rich, nourishing broth.
You can also use any mix of bone-in drumsticks, thighs, or breast meat. Remove the skin if you like, but I like a little bit of rendered chicken fat in my soup!
You’ll need a 6-quart or larger pressure cooker for this recipe. The pot should be just big enough to fit a 3- to 4-pound chicken. If you have a larger pressure cooker (8-quart or bigger), you can also get away with using a slightly larger chicken.
Be careful when doing a quick-release because liquid-heavy pressure cooker recipes like this soup can release a lot of steam during the venting step after cooking.
If you want to avoid the jet of steam entirely, you can wait for the pressure to release naturally. Just wait until the pressure cooker’s float valve has returned to its “down” position. This will take quite a while, though, since this recipe contains a lot of liquid.
Good chicken soup made with the whole chicken will often develop a jelly-like consistency once chilled, so don’t be alarmed if this happens to you! The soup will turn back into liquid when warmed.
For a more filling meal, you can stir some cooked noodles into the soup, or even make dumplings to cook on top. I prefer to cook the noodles separately so that they don’t absorb a ton of moisture from the soup itself. I mix them in just before serving, and store them separately from the soup in the fridge.
To make chicken and dumplings, mix up a basic dumpling dough, spoon it over the finished soup, and lock the lid back on. Cook on “low pressure” for 10 minutes (or 8 minutes for stovetop pressure cooker, or 20 minutes simmered over low heat for stovetop).
How to Make Chicken Soup in the Pressure Cooker Recipe
Stovetop Instructions: Put the chicken in a large soup pot or Dutch oven, breast side up. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot, pouring in the water last to avoid splashing. Cover the pot and place it on the stove over medium heat.
When the soup comes to a boil, turn it down to low and simmer, covered, until the chicken is tender and the meat is just beginning to come away from the bones, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Continue with the remaining steps as described in the recipe below.
- 1 3- to 4-pound chicken, or an equivalent mix of bone-in thighs, legs, or breast meat
- 4 ribs celery, sliced
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 medium parsnip, halved lengthwise and sliced
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 12 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley
- 3 large sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 2 quarts water
- 6-quart electric or stovetop pressure cooker (like an Instant Pot)
1 Put the chicken in the pot of a pressure cooker, breast side up.
2 Layer all of the other ingredients into the pot, pouring in the water last to avoid splashing. Adding four teaspoons of salt at this point will result in a well-seasoned soup broth. Use less salt or eliminate if you'd like to make basic chicken broth to use for other purposes.
3 Cook the soup: Place the lid on the pressure cooker. Make sure the pressure regulator is set to the “Sealing” position. Select the “Manual” program, then set the time to 25 minutes at high pressure. (Instant Pot users can also select the "Soup" program and follow the same cooking time. For stovetop pressure cookers, cook at high pressure for 22 minutes.)
It will take about 35 minutes for your pressure cooker to come up to pressure, and then the actual cooking will begin. Total time from the time you seal the pressure cooker to the finished dish is about one hour.
4 When the soup has finished cooking, wait about 15 minutes before "quick" releasing the pressure. This helps prevent a lot of steamy broth spitting out of the valve. Even so be careful when releasing the steam!
You can also let the pressure release naturally, though this will take quite a while. Wait until the pressure cooker’s float valve has returned to its "down" position before opening the pressure cooker.
5 Prepare the chicken meat: Use a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the pot, and transfer it to a dish to cool until you can comfortably handle it, about 20 minutes. It may come apart as you are removing it from the pot, so go slowly and carefully.
Take the meat off of the bones, and discard the bones, skin, and cartilage. Cut or tear the meat into bite-sized pieces.
6 Stir the chicken meat back into the soup. Ladle into bowls and serve.
Let any leftover soup cool completely, then store in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. The soup may gel as it cools; it will liquefy again when heated.
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