Friday, September 9, 2016

Italian Chicken Soup (Pressure Cooker/Slow Cooker)

We have a busy schedule this school year. The time between the kids getting home from school before we run off to soccer, scouts, or Awana's seems realllly short this year. That means I either need to start dinner way before the kids get home, use my crock pot, serve sandwiches, cereal, or rotisserie chickens from Costco, or cook the night before. None of those all the time is appealing to me. In walks my pressure cooker... the Instant Pot. It's such a great tool to have in the kitchen! We came home one day after a soccer tournament and I threw this together so quickly. I am loving using my Instant Pot for dishes like this. Soups, stews, roasts, anything that needs a wet environment to cook. The chicken is moist and flavorful, not dry. Sometimes chicken cook too long in a slow cooker and get either mushy or dry.
I use boneless skinless chicken thighs for this soup but I buy bone in with the skin on. I skin and bone them myself. I use the bones for stock and save the skin and fat to make schmaltz for Matzo balls. It's a great way to store bones for stocks. To render schmaltz for cooking I just toss it in a pan and render with some onion. I may do a blog post on that sometime. 
I use Castelvetrono olives in this soup because they are one of our favorite olives. Probably our most favorite. They are buttery and they impart a yummy salty flavor to this broth. As you can see from the picture below, we love these olives. Sadly that ten pound bucket is gone now.
I keep kale in my freezer. I freeze it from fresh and just grab handfuls at a time for smoothies, soups, and to cook with. It is great because I can always have it on hand to add greens to any dish. Chopped carrots and onions can also be frozen if they are going to be used for cooking.
I hope you'll try this soup, it's filling and quick!
Freezer Tip: If you have leftover tomato paste and don't want to use a ice cube tray to freeze it. Use a zip top bag. Score the tomato paste with a chopstick or wooden spoon. Freeze it and when you need a square break it off and put the rest back in the freezer. This works with so many things, ground beef, yogurt, etc. You can also use an ice cube tray to freeze cubes of tomato paste.

Pressure Cooker Italian Chicken Soup

5 boneless skinless chicken thighs (3 boneless skinless chicken breasts halved if large*)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon ghee, olive oil, or bacon grease
1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 onion, chopped, about one cup
2-3 carrots, chopped, about 1.5 cups
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/2 pound mushrooms, white button or cremini cut in halves or quarters if large
1/2 teaspoon summer savory
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 pint, 551 ml cherry tomatoes, a little over 2 cups
2 cups lightly packed kale leaves, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup Castelvetrano olives, or other green olives
2-3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup loosely packed Italian basil leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed Italian parsley

  1. Turn Instant Pot on SAUTE mode, on HIGH, with liner in the pot.
  2. Salt and pepper chicken, set aside.
  3. Once pot is warm, add bacon grease, oil, or ghee.
  4. Add red pepper flakes, onion, carrots, and garlic. Stir and cook for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add mushrooms, savory, and tomato paste, stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add chicken thighs and stir. 
  7. Add tomatoes, kale, olives, and stock.
  8. Press MANUAL, then  HIGH PRESSURE, adjust the time for 10 minutes.
  9. Once the cycle is over let this naturally release pressure for 15 minutes.
  10. Taste, season with salt and pepper if needed.
  11. You can shred the chicken if you like at this point.
  12. Stir in basil and parsley and serve with a wedge of lemon.

* Chicken breasts, small or halves, cook for 7 minutes.
* Skinless bone in thighs, cook for 10 minutes.
* I keep a bag of fresh kale in the freezer. I just grab handfuls as needed.
* You can cook this in a slow cooker, low 3-4 hours

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