‘Tis soup season my autumn-loving friends! I could eat soup year-round truth be told, but it always tastes so much better when there’s a bit of a nip in the air, don’t you think? Last week I dug out my heavy duty pressure cooker, a gift from my in-law’s last year for Christmas, and decided to give bone broth a go because I needed it that night. She opted to get me a traditional cooker (instead of an Instant Pot) that doubles as a really good quality stainless steel pot, as she knows I prefer to keep my kitchen tools and appliances to a minimum. And while I was a bit leery about using it at first with flash-backs to my mom using her pressure cooker with caution in the kitchen, I am all about it now. There is a big difference in how pressure cookers used to be made and how they are crafted today, and I think a lot of my peace of mind comes with the cook-friendly features, such as the visible pressure valve and simple twist lock top. However, my sister-in-law got the Instant Pot and raves about it, so I think both are great options to have in the kitchen if you want slow-cooked meals made in a pinch. And that’s exactly what I made: home-cooked bone broth and chicken noodle in less than an hour, all the while feeling under the weather. That’s amazing to me, because there’s nothing better than good broth when you’ve got a cold. Let me walk you through how I made both so you can stock up for when you’re in need of an immunity boost, or when simple home comforts like warm soupy broth sounds like the perfect autumnal supper.
Ingredients & Preparation for the Chicken Noodle Soup:
- One happily raised whole chicken, preferably local, hormone free, grass-fed and organic (I use Campo Lindo birds and eggs raised here in Kansas City)
- 4-5 carrots, chopped into small pieces
- 1 large or 2 small yellow onions, chopped into small pieces
- 3-4 celery stalks, chopped into small pieces
- 3 gloves of garlic, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I use and love Braggs)
- sea salt to season
- egg noodles
- olive oil
To prepare your soup, pat dry and season your bird very generously with salt. Let it hang out, dried and seasoned, while you prepare the vegetables, cutting them as you would want to eat them in your soup. We like small dices, but chop as you prefer. In either your stove-top pressure cooker or Instant Pot, brown the entire bird in olive oil on all sides. Browning meat is a crucial first step in any slow-cooked meal, as it intensifies the flavor and adds a richness to the broth, so don’t skip this step! I typically brown for 5-8 minutes per side, flipping every so often. Once your bird is browned, remove it from the pot and add the vegetables, stirring them into the oil and juice before adding the garlic, turmeric, and ginger. Stir and place the bird back in the pot on top of the vegetables (this prevents the chicken from browning too much) and fill the pot with water, bay leaves, and apple cider vinegar. The vinegar is another indispensable step because it helps the bones release the essential vitamins and nutrients, making the broth more medicinal and healing. You can also add more salt at this point, but I think it’s best to wait and do so once it’s finished just incase your broth is already salty enough.
I don’t have an Instant Pot so I am not sure if it has a max capacity line, but my stainless pot does, and I fill it with water up to that. Secure the lid (a very important step) and bring the pressure cooker up to full heat. Once it’s fully pressurized (this takes a few minutes) cook for 30 minutes on low to medium heat. Lowering the heat at this point keeps the pressure high without over-processing your food, and this amount of time will cook the chicken through without making it too tough to consume. Once 30 minutes is up, turn off the heat and carefully release the pressure. For my pressure cooker, this simply means moving the valve over so more steam can be released, then I just wait for the little red button to pop back into the lid, when then I know it’s safe to take off the top. It will take awhile for the steam to release inside, so use this time to curl up with a book or prep your canning jars if you plan on preserving or freezing any leftovers. Once the steam is released, pull the hot chicken out of the broth and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Allow it to cool, and pick all the meat off the bird, removing the bones, cartilage, and any other bits that are hard to digest. We like both white and dark meat in our soup, so I take the time to trim all the good stuff from the bird before cutting it up and placing back into the soupy broth.
The next step is entirely up to you, and depends on how thick you want your soup to be. Our family’s favorite noodles for soup are egg noodles, and you can either A). cook the noodles right in the soup over the stove, or B). cook the noodles separately in water and then add them when they are al dente. If you are wanting more broth to noodles, I would suggest option B, because the noodles will absorb a lot of the liquid when cooking. However, noodles cooked in broth are delicious, so that’s a good option too. Your soup will also be much more starchy if you cook the noodles in your homemade broth, but equally yummy if you choose not to.
Preparation for the Bone Broth:
When making bone broth, the preparation is nearly the same except for the amount of time your bird will spend in the pot processing and how fancy you choose to chop your ingredients. If only making bone broth and not making soup, you won’t have to worry about making beautiful dices for your vegetables, as they will be strained in the end. A rough chop, skins and all, will do just fine. And instead of processing for 30 minutes, you will process for 1 full hour. This amount of time will not make the meat tender enough to eat, but will break down the bones and extract all of the goodness from them, creating a nourishing gelatinous broth that will aid in healing your body. Instead of picking the meat off the bones and keeping the vegetables (which you can certainly do, by the way!) you’ll strain the whole thing several times to remove any of the impurities from the cooking process. This method will create a golden brown broth that you can serve in mugs and sip when unwell, or serve with brown rice for a simple, wholesome meal.
When I make bone broth I let it cook and then freeze in thick mason jars so I’ve got ready-to-sip bone broth when I need it. You can also store in freezer bags as well, or keep in the fridge for several days if you plan on drinking it throughout the week. And if you want to make beef bone broth, the process is very similar, only that you’ll use a bunch of good-quality beef bones in leiu of a whole chicken.
There you have it, soup lovers. Two wonderful cold-season sips that you can make in an hour or less. And now pressure cooker and Instant Pot lovers, what are your favorite meals to make in them? I am going to do a white chicken chili I read in the most recent Cook’s Illustrated next week, as well as some fresh tomato pasta sauce this weekend to use up all the tomatoes we’ve been getting this month. Side note: what a weird year for tomatoes. How did yours fare? Our tiny ones did well but our larger ones, not so much. I am thinking of stocking up this weekend and preserving sauce to freeze. Would that be something you’d be interested in learning how to do?