Soup was on the menu last night. Nothing fancy, nothing exotic, nothing international, just plain, old-fashioned chicken noodle soup. Time constraints, however, led me to my pressure cooker, which considerably reduces the cooking time and, in my opinion, turns out a tastier, clearer soup than conventional methods.
My recipe came from one of my go-to books for this type of cooking: Pressure Cooker Perfectionfrom America’s Test Kitchen. Although the recipe at first glance would lead one to believe that the soup would be ready in 20 minutes (the time under pressure), in real time, including prep and cooking the noodles, it took about an hour. One ingredient, specifically soy sauce, gave me some pause, but it actually gave the soup a deeper meat flavor. And extra-wide egg noodles cooked in the finished broth added extra body.
Farmhouse Chicken Noodle Soup Adapted from Pressure Cooker Perfection by America’s Test Kitchen
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used extra-virgin olive oil.)
1 onion, chopped fine (I used a large yellow onion.)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
8 cups water (I had to reduce the amount of water for my pressure cooker to avoid over filling by about a cup and a half. I compensated for the difference when I cooked the noodles in the broth.)
4 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 celery ribs, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 (4 -pound) whole chicken, giblets discarded (I opted for an organic bird. I think they have more flavor.)
Salt and pepper
4 ounces (2 2/3 cups) wide egg noodles (I used extra wide.)
1/4 cup minced parsley
Heat oil in pressure cooker pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion (and a pinch of salt) and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. (Be careful not to brown the garlic.)
Stir in water, carrots, celery, and soy sauce, scraping up any browned bits.
Season chicken with salt and pepper and place, breast-side up, in the pot. (Putting the chicken breast side up ensures more even cooking of the chicken. After adding the chicken, be sure that the contents of the pot do not exceed the max fill level of your pressure cooker.)
Lock pressure cooker lid in place and bring to high pressure over medium-high heat. As soon as the pot reaches high pressure, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to maintain high pressure.
Remove pot from heat. Quick release pressure, then carefully remove the lid, allowing steam to escape away from you. (Follow your pressure cooker’s manual for quick-release instructions.)
Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred meat into bite-size pieces, discarding skin and bones. (I went for big chunks of chicken.)
Using a large spoon, skim excess fat from the surface of the soup. Bring soup to boil, stir in noodles, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in shredded chicken and parsley, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Wine Pairing: Chardonnay