This Italian chicken soup made with a whole chicken has incredible depth of flavour, is both hearty and healthy and will soon become a family favourite. An excellent recipe for those new to pressure cooking!
Try also my Hearty Chicken & Vegetable Soup
If you are reading this recipe for pressure cooker Italian chicken soup you will likely fall into one of three camps.
- You are a pressure cooker enthusiast and can’t understand why everyone else is not!
- You just bought a pressure cooker. You are a bit intimated by it and unsure what to do with it.
- You are here trying to figure out what the fuss is all about.
I fall into the second camp. I gifted myself a pressure cooker just before Christmas and then left it, in its box, on my kitchen floor, mildly terrified about opening the box and having to use it.
If you, like me, are a total newb to pressure cooking then here’s a few things to get out of the way first. Pressure cooking has been around for decades.
My mother had a stovetop version which she used to make soups mostly. It was very loud and a tad scary and I remember being told to keep well clear of it!
Modern electric pressure cookers are miles away from the old versions. They are multi cookers, able to sauté, slow cook, pressure-cook, make rice and even yoghurt. That’s right, they are practically magic!
Pressure cooking cooks food at a lower temperature but higher pressure which allows food to cook really fast.
You can make a risotto in 6 minutes, plus some some time sautéing, without having to stand watch and stir for ages.
You can cook pulses from dried, and make pulled pork and amazing bone broth easily.
For this Italian chicken soup, a whole chicken is cooked with a few chopped vegetables for 25 minutes.
When the cooking is done you will have a fall off the bone chicken and an intensely delicious chicken stock.
The chicken is then shredded, the stock strained and everything is returned to the pressure cooker to cook for a couple minutes further with lots of herbs, some fresh chopped tomatoes and orzo (or risoni) pasta.
Cooking pasta in a pressure cooker is very quick, however it is likely to overcook and absorb too much water.
To avoid that, you could stir stovetop-cooked pasta in once soup is ready. Or you could cook it in the pressure cooker and then manually release the pressure to avoid overcooking.
Pressure cooking: manual VS natural release
Manual release (or quick release) and natural release is the one element of pressure-cooking that’s important to master.
At first I was too timid to release the pressure manually and left the pressure cooker to release the steam naturally – this can take anything from 10-30 minutes.
All ‘manual release’ means is that you turn the steam valve to its ‘venting’ position by hand (note it always has to be set to seal or locked position when cooking, otherwise pressure cannot build).
You have to be careful to keep your hand out of the way of the steam, turning the valve from the side, or using a wooden spoon to turn it.
All told, it’s not scary at all and it doesn’t make the intense whistling sound that my mum’s pressure cooker used to emit!
Pay attention to whether a recipe specifies for manual or natural release – it can make all the difference!
In the case of this soup, you can let the machine release naturally if you haven’t added the pasta – check the pressure valve has dropped down to see if it is done.
Or you can let it release naturally for 20 minutes – set a timer once the machine beeps – then release it manually. Since there’s a lot of liquid there will also be a lot of steam.
This recipe makes enough Italian chicken soup to serve six generously – I portioned mine and froze it, which was the best thing ever.
I am now planning making a big batch of this soup most weekends to see me through the week. Try it, I am pretty sure you will love it as much as I did!
This month, for the first time, I am joining a group of amazing food bloggers to celebrate one ‘food holiday’ per month.
January is National Soup month so here are 7 new soup recipes from the Celebrating food bloggers.
- Pressure cooker Italian chicken soup – HERE
- Creamy white chicken chili – Ashlee Marie
- Creamy Sausage Tortellini Soup – Creations by Kara
- Chicken Fajita Soup – The Baker Upstairs
- Slow Cooker Beef Enchilada Chili – Real Mom Kitchen
- Instant Pot Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup – 365 Days of Slow Cooking and Pressure Cooking
- Vegan Pinto Bean Soup – Namely Marly
Pressure cooker Italian chicken soup
- 1.5 kg | 3 lbs whole chicken
- 4 large tomatoes
- 3 celery stalks roughly chopped
- 2 large carrots peeled and halved
- 1 large onion roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves halved
- 6 black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 litres | 8 cups water
- 4 tsp salt
- 150 g | about 3/4 cup risoni or orzo pasta
- small bunch parsley finely chopped
- small bunch basil finely chopped
- lemon juice to taste
- a little grated Parmesan to serve
- salt and pepper to season
- Place the chicken in the pressure cooker.
- Roughly chop one tomato and finely dice the rest.
- Add the roughly chopped tomato, celery, carrots, onion, garlic cloves, peppercorns and bay leaf in the pressure cooker.
- Slowly pour in the water, taking care not to go above the maximum line indicated in the inside of the pot. Stir in the salt.
- Make sure the steam valve is in the 'sealing' position. Cook for 25 minutes on high pressure.
- At this point you can let the pressure release naturally or, if you are in a hurry, leave it for 15 minutes then release manually. Since this has a lot of liquid there will also be a lot of steam released.
- Open the pressure cooker and use a large slotted spoon to transfer the chicken onto a platter. Be careful as it will be falling off the bone.
- Strain the broth from the pot into a large bowl then return to the pressure cooker.
- Pick out the carrots, dice them and add them to the pot. Discard the other vegetables.
- Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and shred the meat. Add the meat to the pressure cooker.
- Stir in the diced tomatoes, a quarter of the chopped herbs and the pasta (see notes).
- Make sure the valve is set to sealing again. Cover and cook for 4 minutes on high pressure.
- Manually release the pressure.
- Taste the soup for seasoning and add the lemon juice and remaining herbs.
- Serve garnished with croutons with a little sprinkling on Parmesan, if you like.
The pressure cooker will need to build pressure before starting to cook, therefore there's some inactive time which is not accounted in the cooking time.