Chicken, Cauliflower, and Asparagus Soup

I have cooked a whole chicken every week since preparing Rosemary and Garlic Chicken with Brussels Sprouts two months ago with a two and a half pound bird. I was intimidated at first, but now it feels easy to me and I love how much good food comes from cooking a whole chicken.

You can roast a chicken, you can boil a chicken, but I prefer to pressure cook a chicken. Lots of people are afraid of pressure cookers and good ones cost several hundred dollars, but modern pressure cookers are safe and make it easy to produce tasty food fast. Christie Tracy’s recipe for Pressure Cooker Cacciatore inspired me to buy my first pressure cooker and I hope one of mine will convince you.

I did not plan to prepare Chicken, Cauliflower, and Asparagus Soup; my refrigerator recommended that I do something with its chicken and asparagus and I thought it wouldn’t hurt to use the cauliflower too. Not every recipe of convenience works, but this one did. My wife must have told me three times she liked it, so you know it’s good.

Prep and Cook Time: 45-50 minutes

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken (mine was about 4 pounds)
1 large cauliflower
1 pound of asparagus
Red chili powder
Garlic powder
Black pepper
Ground cumin
Salt

Directions: Remove chicken from packaging. Remove giblets (package including the heart, liver, and neck) from the body cavity. Freeze the giblets to use in making chicken stock later. Rinse chicken and add the whole bird to pressure cooker (alternate method noted below). Dust generously with salt, garlic powder, red chili powder, and black pepper. 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. Use a pair of tongs to separate the chicken from the bones and skin and transfer the meat to another large bowl. Once you have all the chicken separated, pull the chicken apart with a pair of forks. Add the chicken back to the hot broth in the pressure cooker. Discard the bones and skin.

Meanwhile, cut cauliflower into chunks and then “process” it until it is the size of rice. I used my new food processor and its shredding blade, but you could achieve a similar result by chopping the cauliflower very finely with a knife. The “riced” cauliflower adds good texture. Cut the woody end of the asparagus off and discard. Puree the asparagus in a food processor or chop it very finely with a knife. Add cauliflower and asparagus to the hot broth in the pressure cooker. 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 3 minutes. Turn off heat under pressure cooker, use the fast-release method to bring pressure down, and remove top. Dinner is served!

Notes: I believe you can boil a whole chicken in a Dutch oven or stock pot for about 40 minutes and get about the same result as pressure cooking a whole bird 20 minutes. If you don’t want to cut your cooking time in half, try it.

I used to reserve half the chicken to use in other recipes when I made soup, but added all of this time. I liked the result and will continue using all the chicken meat in the future. I will simply cook another whole chicken when I need meat for other recipes. It’s that easy!

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. Kuhn Rikon is a Swiss company. Pressure cookers are so popular in Switzerland that the average household has three!

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