‘Stocking’ Up The Freezer With the VARDESATTA
As the cold weather approaches, nothing could be better than a steaming bowl of hot soup to keep warm!
Craig and I are big fans of America’s test kitchen where they test recipes in their test kitchen to perfection before sharing it with the masses. We wondered if the VARDESATTA pressure cooker could make as good a pot of chicken soup as my grandmother used to make simmering it away for hours! Craig tested out two recipes: a simple chicken stock from America’s test kitchen’s own pressure cooker cookbook, and my grandmother’s traditional chicken soup adapted for a pressure cooker by me.
ATK Chicken Stock
Surprisingly, the America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) recipe doesn’t call for aromatics such as carrot and celery! We found that in a taste comparison against the chicken soup that was made in the VARDESATTA using my grandmother’s recipe, we didn’t really miss the aromatic vegetables. Why? Because its sole purpose was to be used purely for its meaty flavour to add to other recipes where it will only be one ingredient of many. If you’re using the resulting broth for soup, however, it’s best to load it up with lots of yummy vegetables, like we did using my grandmother’s recipe below!
The ATK recipe calls for browning the chicken before adding in the rest of the ingredients. With the VARDESATTA, you can do the browning right in the pot!
Once the chicken is browned, Craig transferred it to a glass dish and then browned the onions and garlic. Once that’s done, he transferred the chicken and any juices back into the VARDESATTA.
Then he added the salt and bay leaves and filled the water up to the fill line marked on the inside of the VARDESATTA, which turned out to be 3 quarts of water as was specified in the recipe.
Attach the lid and one hour later you have delicious, flavourful stock to add to other recipes! If you would like to try ATK’s pressure-cooker chicken broth, check out this link.
The Grandmother of all Chicken Soups
My grandmother never wrote down a recipe. Whenever I asked her for one, it was always ‘a little bit of this and a little bit of that’, but after watching her make chicken soup a zillion times, it almost becomes ingrained in the DNA!
For this pilot test in the VARDESATTA, we used:
- Two packages of chicken bones
- One chicken breast
- One small onion, quartered
- 2 celery stocks, cut in pieces
- Two carrots, cut in pieces
- 1/2 piece turnip
- One parsnip, cut in pieces
- Two cubes of frozen rosemary (from our indoor garden)
- One bay leaf
- Salt and pepper
My grandmother’s method was to add the chicken to the pot, add water until it was just covering the chicken and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a rolling simmer and then strain all the fat that floats to the top with a spoon. This took about 10 minutes in the VARDESATTA.
Once the liquid is relatively clear, then you can add all the aromatics. For this batch we used onion, carrot, turnip, parsnip, bay leaf and some leftover rosemary from our herb garden that we froze in the PLASTIS ice cube tray (as you saw in our initial pressure cooker post).
Since I’m so used to making a HUGE pot of soup in a stock pot, I actually cut up more than I could use in the VARDESATTA, so the picture shown below is more than the amount I ended up putting into the soup (we used the leftovers in another recipe).
Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper to taste.
If the water is low, add more up to the fill line of the VARDESATTA.
In only one hour you’ll have finished soup. Use a strainer to strain the soup – pure liquid gold! Our STRAPATS pedal bin is indispensable once all the spent vegetables and chicken bones are strained from the soup; it’s great to finally have a decent sized bin in the kitchen to hold the green bin waste!
As you can see below, skimming the fat off the chicken soup at the beginning of cooking will leave you with a clearer broth as compared to ATK’s recipe which isn’t skimmed at all. However, we popped both versions into the fridge overnight to combat that.
The next morning, take the soup out of the fridge and remove the solidified chicken fat from the top. You can reserve the fat to make Matzoh balls – which are delicious dumplings my grandmother used to make to embellish her chicken soup.
All that’s left to do is a taste comparison of the two recipes and load up containers to re-stock the freezer and enjoy for later. Mmmm, I can taste it now! Which recipe was better? They both came out excellent!
When reheating the chicken soup, it’s nice to add back in some fresh vegetables, such as sliced carrots and celery. Keep the lid covered until the raw veggies are tender though or your delicious broth may evaporate before they’re cooked through!
We love how quick and easy it is to make soup in the VARDESATTA pressure cooker. If you’re thinking of trying one, the VARDESATTA is available in two sizes (4.2 and 6.3-quart); we’d recommend you buy the larger one. As a matter of fact, if I could change just one thing about the VARDESATTA, where soup is concerned, I would want an 8 or even 10-quart size so I could make and freeze even more! Who doesn’t love more of a good thing?
May the broth be with you!