The Best Instant Pot Chicken Soup (Customizable!)
I realize this soup isn’t as sexy as other versions of chicken noodle soup you see online with noodles and herbs and stuff poking out. (Like, where are the noodles, right?)
I thought about piling on the garnishes. But I decided to give you the real deal. (Which is what I usually do around here.) This is the exact soup that I make for my family. And the soup the my kids jump around and cheer for.
It’s a good soup, but it always surprises me just how excited they get. I mean, they have just as much anticipation when I make this as when we have more interesting things like sushi bowls or pizza night.
This is the third part of a little “series” — if you could even call it that — showing how a typical whole chicken transforms when it enters our house.
First I make an Easy Roast Chicken.
Then I make Instant Pot Chicken Bone Broth from the carcass.
And then… this next step varies somewhat, but more often than not I make some kind of chicken soup.
If you’ve been around here for a while, you may remember my Cold Remedy Chicken Soup? This is the Instant Pot version of that soup and I’ve included lots of variations here. Like, using raw vs. cooked chicken, varying the vegetables, or adding a little starch (rice or gluten-free noodles).
The first time I made this soup, I had a bunch of sick kids and started tossing things into the pot that were rumored to help with immune support, have antimicrobial qualities and what not.
In went the lemon juice, some ginger, garlic, coconut oil, homemade bone broth… and I ended up with one of the most flavorful chicken soups I’d ever eaten!
This soup has taken a lot of different forms over the years as I improvise according to what I have on hand. (One time it took a southwest turn and out came Creamy Southwest Chicken Soup.)
Other vegetables to add to chicken soup
This version is a classic chicken soup with onions, carrots, and celery. You could add any of these, too:
- cabbage (LOVE this. It’s also Steve’s favorite.)
- bell peppers
- sweet potatoes
- dark leafy greens like kale & chard
- other root vegetables like parsnips & beets
If you’re going to use spinach, I’d recommend adding it at the end after the pressure cycle is over. Just throw in a couple of handfuls and close the lid for a few minutes.
The problem with this soup is that we love it so much (and I make a lot of soup in general) and have a REALLY hard time keeping homemade bone broth stocked.
Thank goodness for Costco, right? Their organic chicken broth is pretty good and works well in this soup.
The most common thing I hear from readers who make this soup is, “I thought it would be really gingery or too lemony.”
Even if you’re not a fan of ginger, I’d recommend using it anyway. The lemon & ginger don’t overpower the soup — they boost and brighten the overall flavor.
(PSST: Store your ginger in the freezer! It’s MUCH easier to grate and it won’t get shriveled when you forget about it for a few weeks. Also, you don’t really need to peel it when it’s frozen since the skin gets grated up really well.)
Just trust me on this one!
By the way, do you have a Microplane grater? Please say yes. It’s invaluable for grating ginger, garlic, hard cheeses and getting the zest off of citrus. I use mine ALL the time. I have this wide, coarse Microplane and I prefer it to the longer, thinner ones.
I’ve made this soup starting with raw chicken breasts, but most often I make it with leftover roast chicken. The cooking time varies a lot if you use whole raw chicken breasts. Here’s a little guideline:
IF YOU USE RAW CHICKEN BREASTS or THIGHS: Cook at high pressure for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken. I’d recommend slicing the breasts in half if they’re thicker than an inch. When the pressure cycle is over, remove the chicken, shred it, and return it to the cooker. I’d also recommend slicing the vegetables bigger so they don’t turn to mush during cooking.
IF YOU USE COOKED CHICKEN: Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes — especially if you dice the vegetables small. The length of time you cook something in an Instant Pot depends on how long it takes to cook the slowest cooking item. In this case — the carrots.
OK, a little off topic, but check out this action shot.
When I did the photos for this post, I decided to use my tripod so I could use my hands easier. I attached a remote to my camera and let my kids take the photos for me. #babylukedanes got this salting shot. Pretty great for a 4-year-old, right?
On a related note — I have 436 other photos from this particular recipe. #triggerhappy #helpingmomisfun
When to add noodles or rice to the soup?
Usually I don’t add either one. Sometimes I’ll toss some leftover rice in there.
If I’m feeling particularly “cool mom”-ish I’ll put some rice noodles in.
Here’s a little guide when to add what:
IF YOU ADD COOKED RICE: Add it after the pressure cooking cycle.
IF YOU ADD UNCOOKED RICE: Add 1/4 cup before the pressure cooking cycle. No other liquid is needed.
IF YOU ADD COOKED NOODLES: Add them after the pressure cycle.
IF YOU ADD UNCOOKED NOODLES: If your noodles are very small or thin rice noodles, you can add them after the pressure cycle and close the lid for 5-10 minutes while they soften. If you’re using stiffer noodles, add them at the beginning. But if you’re cooking the soup for 15-20 minutes, then your noodles will most likely turn to mush.
Steve & I like to throw some hot sauce and shredded Parmesan in there. (MMMM it’s so good.)
More Chicken Soup Recipes
We love all variations of chicken soup! Here are some of our favorites:
Like I mentioned earlier, the Creamy Southwest Chicken Soup for Instant Pot was a riff of this classic version and still result in licked bowls.
We also loved this other variation with tomatillos — Instant Pot Chicken Tomatillo Soup.
And once I made a chicken soup with fajita leftovers. That was a smart move — Leftover Chicken Fajita Soup.
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil or avocado oil
- 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated on a Microplane grater
- Juice from 1 small lemon
- 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated on a Microplane grater
- 6 cups of Chicken Bone Broth (or store-bought chicken broth)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or rosemary
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (You may need to double this if your homemade broth isn't salted.)
- 2-3 cups cooked, chopped chicken
- Turn your Instant Pot to the Saute setting and add the coconut oil to the pot. When it's fully heated, add the carrot, celery, and onion. Cook for 5 minutes or so until the onion softens.
- Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so. Hit the "Cancel" button.
- Add the lemon, ginger, broth, herbs, and salt.
- Close the lid and move the steam release valve to "Sealing". Cook on high pressure to 5 minutes. Move the steam release valve to "Venting" to release the steam quickly. If liquid starts to splatter out, move the valve back to "Sealing" and wait 5-10 minutes before manually releasing the steam again.
- Taste, and add more lemon or salt if you think it needs it. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.
- We like using grated parmesan and hot sauce for garnish.
- ADDING OTHER VEGETABLES. You'll just want 3-4 cups of vegetables whatever you use: cabbage, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, squash, dark leafy greens like kale & chard, other root vegetables like parsnips & beets.
- IF YOU USE RAW CHICKEN BREASTS or THIGHS: Cook at high pressure for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken. I'd recommend slicing the breasts in half if they're thicker than an inch. When the pressure cycle is over, remove the chicken, shred it, and return it to the cooker. I'd also recommend slicing the vegetables bigger so they don't turn to mush during cooking.
- IF YOU USE COOKED CHICKEN: Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes -- especially if you dice the vegetables small.
- IF YOU ADD COOKED RICE: Add it after the pressure cooking cycle.
- IF YOU ADD UNCOOKED RICE: Add 1/4 cup before the pressure cooking cycle. No other liquid is needed.
- IF YOU ADD COOKED NOODLES: Add them after the pressure cycle.
- IF YOU ADD UNCOOKED NOODLES: If your noodles are very small or thin rice noodles, you can add them after the pressure cycle and close the lid for 5-10 minutes while they soften. If you're using stiffer noodles, add them at the beginning. But if you're cooking the soup for 15-20 minutes, then your noodles will most likely turn to mush.
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