Chicken, Broccoli, and Mushroom Soup (Serves 5-6)
My older brother got me a job at the Jitney Jungle Grocery Store when I was a teenager, so I know something about buying trends of 40 years ago. Whole chickens sold well; every woman bought at least one or more every week. I don’t remember people buying breasts or thighs or legs separately. Things have changed a lot since then and whole chickens take up little counter space in the modern grocery store. Many modern cooks do not know how easy and rewarding it is to work with a whole chicken. I cooked my first whole chicken only recently and shared the story at Rosemary and Garlic Chicken with Brussels Sprouts. Now I want to share the story of my second whole chicken. In part 1: Pressure cooking a whole chicken to make soup. In part 2, I will share the story of making chicken salad with leftover chicken. So now, the story of soup.
Prep and Cook Time: 45-50 minutes
1 whole chicken (mine was about 4 pounds)
1 or 2 heads of broccoli
8 ounces of mushrooms
1 large sweet yellow onion
3-5 ribs of celery
Extra virgin olive oil
Directions: Mix spices in a small bowl – 1 tablespoon each of salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Rub a small amount of olive oil on the inside and outside surfaces of the chicken. Use one oily hand to rub the spice mixture around inside the chicken and then rub the rest of the mixture on the outside. Add an additional dusting of spices as needed to the outside, making sure you are generous with the salt and garlic powder. Add chicken to pressure cooker. Add enough water to almost submerge the chicken. In my case that was about 10 cups. Lock top on pressure cooker. Increase heat to high. After achieving high pressure, reduce heat to the lowest level consistent with maintaining high pressure. Cook under high pressure for 20 minutes. Turn off heat under pressure cooker, use the slow-release method to bring pressure down, and remove top. Remove chicken from pressure cooker with tongs (because it is hot!) and transfer to a large mixing bowl. If the chicken falls apart, remove the pieces as best you can with tongs and scoop the rest out with a slotted spoon. Leave the broth in the pot while you continue.
Chop broccoli, onion, mushrooms, and celery into bite-sized pieces. Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, stirring occasionally. Add celery and let cook with the onions. Add a dusting of salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. Add broccoli, mushrooms, celery, and onion to the broth in the pressure cooker and adjust heat under the open pot to medium. Let vegetables cook in the hot liquid while you continue.
Use tongs and a fork to pull the chicken apart, separating the chicken meat into one bowl and the skin and bones into another bowl. Pack about half of the chicken into an air-tight container and save in the refrigerator to make chicken salad later (Part 2). Shred the remaining chicken and add to the pressure cooker with the broth and the vegetables. Stir ingredients well and taste broth. Add spices as needed according to taste. Broccoli and celery should be soft enough to eat by the time you add the shredded chicken. If not, let mixture cook a few more minutes. When done, ladle into bowls and enjoy!
Notes: Whole chickens often come with the heart, liver, and gizzard (giblets) tucked inside the body cavity in a bag. The giblets are good for making stock, gravy, and other dishes. Save the giblets in an air-tight container in the freezer. Add the skin and the bones from the chicken you just cooked. Use to make chicken stock another day. You want that recipe? Add the bones, skin, and giblets from one chicken to the pressure cooker with 10-12 cups of water. Cook under high pressure for an hour. Reduce pressure, open top, and let broth cool 30-60 minutes. Ladle into air-tight containers and freeze until needed. The broth is safe in the refrigerator for about 5 days. Discard what is left in the pot after you ladle out the liquid. You might could get another pot of broth out of them, but you’re going to cook another whole chicken soon, so you can use that for stock.
I love my Kuhn Rikon Duromatic Top Pressure Cooker 7.4-Quart that I ordered from Amazon.com. After reading a bunch of pressure cooker reviews, I decided to spend a little extra to get the one the New York Times described as the Mercedes-Benz of pressure cookers. I’m glad I did. Kuhn Rikon is a Swiss company. Pressure cookers are so popular in Switzerland that the average household has three! I have not purchased a second one yet, but could use one to prepare vegetables separately while longer cooking meat dishes are in their final minutes.
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