How to Make a Small Batch of Chicken Soup In Your Pressure Cooker

Photo: Claire Lower

One of the main complaints I’ve heard about pressure cookers is that they make so much food. If you are part of a nuclear family unit, this is never a problem, but an overabundance of food can create both anxiety and palate fatigue for those of us that live in households of one. I feel this the most when I make soup.

I like soup. But soup recipes make a lot of soup, and I am not the type of person who can eat the same soup for multiple days in a row, at least not without complaining about it. This means I rarely make soup, or at least I used to rarely make soup. That all changed when I saw this Food52 article on using a Cornish game hen to make just the right amount of chicken soup for the “solo soul.” In it, Eric Kim—who writes the outstanding series, Table for One—stuffs the hen with rice and garlic, then simmers it for about an hour with onion and ginger. The result is the perfect amount of soothing, warming chicken soup for one human.

It’s a great recipe, but one that requires some amount of standing over the stove while bathing the hen in the broth. If you don’t feel like doing that, you can use pressure cooker. You can use whatever aromatics and vegetables you want, but I added a carrot for sweetness, a shallot instead of an onion, five cloves of garlic, and fresh ginger and herbs. I also added a healthy splash of apple cider vinegar, which helps extract collagen and adds a nice, subtle tang.

Did I sprinkle MSG in there as well? Yes. Yes, I did. I did it as an homage to the cans of Campbell’s I consumed as a sick child, but I also did it because it tastes very good, especially if you’re all congested and struggling to taste anything. You don’t need a lot—just an eighth of a teaspoon—and it gives your soup that extra savoury edge. That, paired with the richness of the meat, the acid from the vinegar, and the sweetness from the carrot, makes a perfectly balanced broth for your pressure-poached hen to swim in.

To make it, you will need:

  • 3 cups water

  • 1 medium carrot, chopped into 4 large chunks

  • 1 shallot, quartered

  • 5 cloves of garlic, smashed

  • 3 thin, 4cm-inch-long slices of ginger

  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme

  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary

  • 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1 Cornish game hen

  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon MSG

Add the water, vegetables, and ginger to the insert of your pressure cooker. Tie the thyme and rosemary together with a little kitchen twine, and add that too. Add the apple cider vinegar to the water. Holding the hen above the insert, sprinkle the salt and MSG on both sides, letting the excess fall into the water below.

It won’t be submerged, and that’s ok! (Photo: Claire Lower)

Place the hen in the pot, breast side up, close it, and press the “Soup” function button (or equivalent setting). Press the “Adjust” button so it is set to “Less,” and adjust the time to 10 minutes. Once the cooking time has elapsed, let the pressure release naturally.

Transfer the hen to a large soup bowl, then drain the broth way from the vegetables and herbs. Pour the broth over the hen, and add some rice (or perfectly cooked vegetables) if you desire. You can also shred the poultry on a cutting board and add it to a bowl of broth, but I like pulling it off the bone with a fork while it swims in the soup. Garnish with green onion, Italian parsley, lemon zest, or all three. Eat and be soothed.

This story has been updated since its original publication.


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