The Instant Pot is your winter Shabbat pal, which, sorry to say, is looming on the horizon for those of us Stateside. I know that Instant Pot people sound cultish but there's a good reason for that, one that you can't find out until you start using the thing, by which point you're hooked and a de facto member. Even New York Times columnists are not immune to it, speaking of which, Melissa Clark's first cookbook is an excellent place to start and mostly kosher-adaptable. Point being, this is a fine trend you should definitely succumb to, if nothing else, for when Shabbat comes in at 4:30 p.m. Start learning the lingo, friend.
First up: soup. This thing is amazing for making soup. Admittedly, after a lot of futzing, I have to say that chicken soup slow-simmered on the stovetop is slightly more flavorful. But, unlike Mick Jagger, time's not always on my side, you know?
Two Tips for Instant Pot Chicken Soup
The first thing to know about making chicken soup in a pressure cooker as opposed to on the stovetop is that you'll get a lot less water evaporation. Don't be tempted to fill up the water up to the "max fill" line, because your soup will be too dilute. I find that 8 cups, the amount I call for in the recipe, straddles the line between economy and flavor. You can use less water if you'd like a heartier flavor.
Secondly, I've found that the Instant Pot has a tendency to concentrate flavors. This is a boon to curries, but, take it from me, you do not want Black Pepper Soup or Parsley Soup. That's why I have less fresh herbs than I'd put in a stovetop soup. I recommend adding the pepper after the soup is finished cooking, if you want it.
The Game-Changing Instant Pot Chicken Soup Hack
All right, okay, the best part of making chicken soup in the Instant Pot is how ridiculously easy it is to strain out the soup guts. For this hack you need a steamer basket insert, which are usually in the neighborhood of US$10 on Amazon (this is the kind I have). You put the stuff you don't want in your finished soup inside the steamer basket. Then, you shove the stuff you do want in the space between the steamer basket and the sides of the inner pot (carrots and sometimes potatoes for my crew).
I suppose I could try this trick in a regular stock pot, but it's just so easy to set up the IP right by the sink and plunk the strainer with all the chicken right down. If I've used mostly picked-over bits of bone, I chuck it straight in the trash. Otherwise, I wait for it to cool and shred the meat.
Using the Instant Pot to Make Chicken Stock for your Freezer
As well as for winter Fridays, the Instant Pot is my standby for making stock for cooking to stash away in the freezer. The nifty steamer-basket-as-strainer trick makes it incredibly easy to make stock as a background kitchen task.
After straining the broth, I ladle it directly from the insert into storage containers. I have a set of extra-large covered ice cube trays with cavities that each hold about ⅓ cup of stock--you can see the cubes in action in this post. (You could theoretically use a silicone muffin mold, but it's tricky to get into the freezer unscathed.) After I make my stock cubes, I divide the rest into 2 or 4 cup portions in freezer bags. I use those either as soup base or for cooking beans, grains, and so on.
It's easy to use the stock as a base for soup: add a few potatoes and carrots when you reheat, boil up some matzah balls, and you're in business. I get a lot of Friday night plus all-week cooking mileage out of a single batch of stock.
Instant Pot Chicken Soup
- 6-Quart Instant Pot (the standard size)
- 2-3 lbs bone-in chicken (see notes for options) - 1-1.5kg
- 1 medium onion - ends trimmed and peeled but left whole
- 2 medium carrots - peeled and trimmed
- 4 small yellow potatoes - peeled and halved, optional
- 1-2 Tbsp kosher salt
- 2 sprigs fresh parsley - leave it stemmed
- 2 sprigs fresh dill - optional
- 8 cups water
- Place a steamer basket insert into your Instant Pot's inner pot. Inside the basket, place the chicken, the onion (you can cut it in half if it won't fit), and the sprigs of herbs. Carefully place the carrots and potatoes, if using, in the space between the basket and the sides of the inner pot. Sprinkle the salt over all the ingredients.
- Pour the 8 cups of water into the pot. The ingredients should be mostly submerged, with the water reaching about ⅔ of the way up the pot, a bit below the "max fill" line.
- Close the lid of the Instant Pot and seal the vent. Select "Manual Pressure" (High) and set for 2 hours. If you're short on time, you can reduce the time down to a minimum of 1 hour, though the soup will be less flavorful.
- Allow the pot to get to pressure--it'll take a while, up to 30 minutes. After the cook time elapses, leave the Instant Pot to manually release for 30 minutes or more (see note).