Cuban Style Chicken Soup from 80 Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker

Did you know that the new and improved pressure cooker is easier, greener, quicker and safer to use than ever before?

To prove it, British food writer Richard Ehrlich, who you might know for his column in The Guardian, penned 80 Recipes for your Pressure Cooker (Kyle Books, 2012).

I will not serve all 80 of them.

Let's start with 1.

Cuban style Chicken Soup Recipe

The garnish of avocado is a delicious surprise—as long as the avocado is of the Hass variety, and properly ripe. If you can’t get that, just skip the avocado.

serves 4

2–3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 lb free-range chicken

meat, cubed or thickly sliced

1 quart chicken stock (from cubes will be fine)

1 onion, quartered

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 bay leaf

4 small new potatoes, thickly sliced

1/3 cup orzo or another very small pasta shape

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

orange and avocado slices, to serve

chopped fresh cilantro, to garnish (optional)

Cuban chicken soup

Pour some oil into the pressure cooker, using just enough to coat the base of the pan generously. Bring up to a brisk heat and put the chicken in, stir-frying just long enough to get a bit of color into it (3–5 minutes). Pour in the stock, and then all the remaining ingredients except the tomatoes. Clamp on the lid. Bring up to full pressure, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and vent immediately.

As soon as you can remove the lid, drop in the tomatoes and put the lid back on. Simmer without pressure just long enough to soften the tomatoes. Serve with the orange and avocado slices passed separately so that everyone can help themselves. You can also add chopped fresh cilantro as a garnish, if you wish. 

Chicken stock

Making poultry stock (and meat stock, even more so) takes a very long time. Hours are needed to extract all the flavor from those bones and their accompanying meat. And the cooking must be a gentle simmer, or the stock will become cloudy. My friend John Whiting, who knows more about the pressure cooker than I ever will, doesn’t mind cloudy stock—and that’s why he makes it in the pressure cooker. I am a fetishist for perfectly clear stock, however, so I do the conventional simmering. The exception: boiling up a chicken or duck carcass when the bird has already been cooked. This is not “proper” stock, in my view, and since I always use the stuff for everyday soups, cloudiness doesn’t matter. Method: chop the carcass into four or five pieces, using all the scraps, and chuck it in the pressure cooker with a carrot, a celery rib, some garlic, some dried herbs, and a halved onion. Put in water to cover, then clamp on the lid. Bring up to full pressure, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to vent gradually. Strain off the solids and you’re done.

(* Recipe from '80 Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker' by Richard Ehrlich, Kyle Books-May 2012, Photography by Will Heap, shared with permission of publisher)

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