Pressure Cooker Chicken and Rice Soup

This is peak comfort food, sped up with the help of a pressure cooker.

Chicken & rice soup in a white bowl.

Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

Why It Works

  • Roasting the chicken wings for the stock produces a more robust and intensely savory broth.
  • Pressure cooking speeds up the process, shaving hours off the cooking time.
  • Poaching chicken leg meat separately from the base of the soup ensures perfectly cooked meat, and eliminates a lot of the guesswork from trying to build the soup in one pot.
  • Cooking the rice separately and reserving it for the very end prevents stodgy soup or overcooked rice; it also gives everyone the freedom to customize their portions.

Sometimes you have a craving for classic chicken and rice soup, and sometimes that craving is so strong you need a shorter route to a warm, steaming bowl of the good stuff. That's where the pressure cooker comes in. This recipe takes all of the flavor-building and texture-enhancing cues from my stovetop chicken and rice soup recipe, and cuts down the cooking time dramatically with the help of a pressure cooker.

Most of the techniques here are the same as my stovetop recipe:

  • I cook the rice separately, waiting to combine it with the hot soup broth at the table, to prevent the grains from spending too much time in the soup and over-softening as a result.
  • The broth borrows techniques from Sohla’s Ultimate Chicken Noodle Soup, which starts by roasting chicken wings for a deeper, richer, more complex flavor base. Aromatics like charred onion and toasted black pepper add further complexity.
  • While the roasted chicken wings provide the rich and chicken-y flavor to the broth itself, I separately poach chicken legs to get two more critical components: tender meat for the soup, and a light broth for cooking the rice, further intensifying the soup's flavor.
  • Beyond that, the soup has everything you'd expect in a bowl of chicken and rice: carrots, celery, parsley, and of course, frozen peas.

Is it the simplest, fastest chicken and rice soup around? No. For that, you could just open up a can of Progresso. But this is more serious business, with layers of flavor and perfect texture in every bite. Let's call it peak comfort food—sped up.

Recipe Facts

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 20 mins
Total: 2 hrs 30 mins

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Ingredients

  • 2 pounds (900g) chicken wings
  • 1 pound (450g) chicken leg quarters
  • 2 tablespoons (18g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt use half as much by volume or the same weight
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns plus 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (100g) medium- or long-grain rice, rinsed
  • 1 (8-ounce; 225g) yellow onion, peeled and cut crosswise into 1 inch thick rounds
  • 6 ounces (170g) carrots (2 medium), cut into 1/4-inch dice 
  • 6 ounces celery (2 to 4 ribs), cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 ounces frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup (15g) chopped parsley

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 500°F (260°C). Spread chicken wings directly on an unlined rimmed baking sheet. Roast wings until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

    Browned chicken wings laid out on a baking sheet.

    Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

  2. Remove wings from oven and drain any rendered chicken fat into a heatproof bowl and reserve. Pour about 1/2 cup of water on baking sheet and scrape up any browned bits that may be stuck to the bottom.

    Slotted spatula scraps up chicken fat from a baking sheet.

    Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

  3. Transfer wings along with water and dissolved browned bits to a stovetop pressure cooker or electric multicooker (such as the Instant Pot). Cover with 1 1/2 quarts (1.4L) water. Bring stovetop pressure cooker to high pressure over high heat, then cook for 20 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to maintain high pressure; alternatively, set an electric multicooker to run at high pressure for 20 minutes.

    Chicken wings and water in a stovetop pressure cooker.

    Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

  4. Depressurize using the quick-release method, then carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you. Strain broth through a fine-mesh strainer over a heat-proof container, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Return broth to now-empty pressure cooker pot.

    Straining chicken broth.

    Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

  5. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine chicken legs with enough water to barely cover, along with 1 tablespoon (9g) salt and 1 teaspoon black peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickest part of legs registers 190°F (88°C), about 30 minutes. Drain chicken, reserving 3/4 cup (175ml) cooking liquid; discard peppercorns. When cool enough to handle, tear chicken into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

    Chicken and peppercorns boiling.

    Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

  6. Wipe now-empty saucepan dry. Add reserved chicken fat and oil and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is coated in oil and beginning to toast, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in reserved 3/4 cup chicken leg poaching liquid and swirl gently to evenly distribute the rice. Bring rice to simmer, then cover, lower heat to low, and cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Off heat, uncover rice, stir to fluff, and cover again until ready to serve.

    Rice cooked in chicken stock.

    Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

  7. Heat a dry 12-inch cast iron or stainless-steel skillet over high heat. Char onion slices until blackened on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Add onions to broth and bring to a simmer on the stovetop, or set electric multicooker to Soup/Broth or other appropriate simmering setting; simmer for 30 minutes. Strain broth through a fine-mesh strainer set over a clean heat-proof container; discard solids.

    Charred onions in broth.

    Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

  8. Return now-empty pressure cooker pot to medium-high heat; alternatively, set electric multicooker to sauté function. Sprinkle the 1 teaspoon ground pepper into pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until pepper is smoky and fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds.

    Pepper smoking in a pot.

    Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

  9. Add broth, carrots, celery, and remaining 1 tablespoon salt and bring mixture to a simmer. Cover and cook until vegetables are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in chicken and peas and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt. To serve, divide cooked rice between bowls and ladle soup over rice. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

    Sprinkling parsley on chicken and rice soup.

    Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

Special Equipment

Pressure cooker, medium saucepan, 12-inch cast iron or stainless steel skillet

Make-Ahead and Storage

To make ahead, prepare recipe through Step 7; store chicken, broth, and cooked rice separately in refrigerator for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months. To serve, defrost all components and finish soup as described in Step 8.