On-Time Chicken Soup
by Dan Brucker
(December 8, 2004) As the press officer for Metro-North,
I was explaining to a Larchmont Gazette reporter that even
aspects of the Larchmont Station reconstruction are taking
a little longer (i.e. the special "performance" coating
that needs to be put on the galvanized canopy) the project
will all come out on time--like being a little late slicing
the turnips for the chicken soup. If it all goes into the
pot together at the right time--huzzah--you've got on-time
Now, this epicurean comparison led me to impart my "on-time" chicken
soup recipe. And why is it on time? Because I use my late
mother's long-forgotten, barely used pressure cooker. Everyone
seems to have an old pressure cooker, and everyone--it seems--is
scared to use it. Well, I say, don't be chicken! Instead,
be "on-time" chicken!
The first part of the recipe is to find your pressure cooker,
make sure the rubber gasket is in good condition, and locate
that little pressure regulator that goes on top of the pressure
valve spindle. (Or just buy a whole new cooker. The Presto
models are good and inexpensive. A four quart size should
Right from the start I do it WRONG. I know that chicken
breasts with bones and skin are best because they impart
more taste to the soup. But I use skinless and boneless chicken
breasts. I can fit more chicken into the pot--anywhere from
three to six breasts. This makes for a lot of chicken left
over for chicken sandwiches, salads or to feed chicken-loving
pets (like my 20-pound cat, Enormous Norma).
On-Time Chicken Soup
Now, being that a pressure cooker REALLY cooks, I cut up
all the following in VERY LARGE chunks:
2-3 big carrots
2-3 tall stalks of celery
1 very large onion
1 clove of garlic - barely cut up
I also add to this:
Fresh dill and parsley
Being that the pot is now pretty well stuffed, I put in
only enough water to fill the pot three-quarters or less.
(Do not fill it to the top--water will blast out through
I place the cover on the pressure cooker, place the regulator
on the ventilator spindle, turn the heat up to high, and
wait till the boiling process starts rocking the regulator.
When the regulator starts rocking, I turn the heat down
to slightly above medium, but make sure that the regulator
still continues to rock.
I then let it cook for only 20 minutes -- 25 minutes if
I have as many as 6 cutlets in there.
I take the pot off the heat immediately after the cooking
time--but DON'T take off the regulator, and DON’T place
the pot under cold water. Just let the pot sit there and
wait until the "stem valve" (the little steel pin
that sticks up out of the cover) falls down flush with the
cover--indicating there's no more high pressure in the pot.
In other words, let it lose pressure on its own accord.
And then, uncover and enjoy! It makes for a super rich,
almost stew-like chicken soup that's rich and aromatic. It's
a one-pot wonder! A great dish to serve to your commuting
spouse after a hard day at work.
Dan Brucker keeps tabs on the Larchmont Station project
and other Metro-North happenings in his position as spokesman
for the train company.
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