Instant Pot Arroz Caldo
Arroz caldo, Filipino chicken and rice soup/porridge, is the ultimate comfort food. Here are my tips for preparing it in the Instant Pot.
It’s been a doozy of a year and to be quite frank, I’m looking forward to 2019 being behind us. My husband and I lost two family members this year and on top of the grief has been a lingering challenge that we hope to see resolved at the beginning of the next year.
But outside the multitude of stressful moments the year has brought, our blessings still abound. We may not have had as much time for travel but everything that matters is intact and for this I am grateful.
Time hasn’t much been on my side, though. I hope to be able to post one or two holiday recipes before 2019 is gone but it hasn’t helped that I spent virtually zero time in the kitchen last week. The only home-cooked meal I managed was this arroz caldo and it felt like cheating because I used a pressure cooker.
Believe me when I say I wanted to share something more festive than a bowl of comfort food that I took a shortcut on…and it may seem like every other dish I’ve made lately has come out of my Instant Pot but it’s not the case, I promise. On the rare occasion I do use it, the meal turns out worthy of sharing here, so here we are again and boy, did we need a dose of comfort last week.
You can find my stovetop version of arroz caldo here and aside for my optional additions in this post, it’s essentially the same recipe but faster and without the need to babysit the pot on the stove. As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, Filipino arroz caldo is the equivalent of chicken soup for its power to heal and comfort when you’re ailing…or just plain cold. And with a pressure cooker you can go from zero to comfort in well under an hour.
How to Make Instant Pot Arroz Caldo
This pressure cooker version of chicken and rice porridge involves nothing more than quickly sautéing the aromatics in oil and dumping the rice, broth and chicken in the pot. It’s really that simple. The garnishes are key for this soup/porridge so those can be quickly assembled while the pressure cooker does its thing.
I do two things a little differently than what tradition dictates but they don’t compromise the flavor or quality of the classic. (These steps are optional so feel free to skip them.)
- Tradition calls for bone-in chicken pieces to be used in arroz caldo and this I wholeheartedly agree with. Bones add flavor especially since water is typically used for the liquid rather than broth. What I do differently is take out the chicken pieces after the soup has cooked and separate the meat from the bones and return the meat to the pot. (This step hardly takes any effort since the meat is practically falling off the bone after the cook time.) Arroz caldo is a thick soup with a porridge consistency and it’s much more pleasant not to have to fiddle with bones while enjoying the hearty soup. That said, I’ve also used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and I’ve been very happy. After cooking the meat falls apart with just a bit of stirring.
- I like to add finely chopped vegetables. Celery and green cabbage don’t alter the taste of arroz caldo but it makes me feel better knowing that my bowl of comfort is also a balanced meal. The pressure cooker really cooks down the celery and finely shredded cabbage stirred in after the soup has cooked virtually disappears in all the rice and chicken.
My Instant Pot Arroz Caldo Tips
- Scrape off the flavorful bits (fond): Using the sauté feature of a pressure cooker is handy for building flavor into a dish without having to use a separate pot. The thing to keep in mind is to make sure that all the fond is scraped off the bottom of the pot to prevent getting a burn notice while the soup is under pressure. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bits as you cook the onions, ginger and celery (if using). For the stubborn fond, add a splash of liquid and use it to deglaze the pot before adding the rest of the chicken stock.
- Rice to Liquid Ratio: My stovetop recipe uses one cup uncooked long-grain rice to eight cups chicken stock. You might be tempted to add more rice but trust me when I say rice has huge ability to soak up all the liquid. Using more rice increases the risk of getting a burn notice if the mixture gets too thick and stick to the pot as the arroz caldo cooks. I use seven cups of stock to cook the soup then stir in the last cup after–this just cuts the time it takes for the mixture to come to pressure. Leftovers continue to thicken so I usually end up adding more liquid as I reheat the soup.
- Cooking Time: For this first attempt I chose to cook the soup under pressure for 25 minutes followed by a quick release (immediately releasing the pressure). I would say 20 minutes is ample time for the quantities I use in my recipe, possibly even 15. At 25 minutes the rice has completely broken down which I happen to like but if you’re really pressed for time or prefer to see still distinguishable grains of rice in your soup, use a shorter pressure cook time coupled with a few minutes of natural pressure release before quickly releasing the remaining pressure. This additional step could also minimize the starchy bits that spew out of the cooker as the pressure releases.
- Water versus stock; Unsalted versus Salted Stock: Water is the traditional liquid used in arroz caldo since the chicken bones, fish sauce and other aromatics lend to the overall flavor. Stock is more convenient and handy if you elect to use boneless chicken pieces. I would suggest using the smaller amount of fish sauce in the recipe depending on which liquid you use. I like to use Kitchen Basics Unsalted stock or Swanson Reduced Sodium Chicken Stock. You can always add more fish sauce if you see it needs it.
Instant Pot Arroz Caldo
- 2 – 2 1/2 pounds chicken pieces, bone in or boneless (thighs are best)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1-2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated (or sliced)
- 2-3 tablespoons fish sauce (See Note)
- 1 cup uncooked Jasmine or long-grain white rice (not minute rice)
- 8 cups unsalted chicken stock (or low-sodium) (See Note)
- Olive oil
- 2-3 ribs celery, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 cup shredded green or Savoy cabbage (optional)
Garnish (use some or all)
- lemon wedges (highly recommend)
- sliced scallions (highly recommend)
- hard boiled eggs
- chicharon (fried and crushed pork rinds)
- freshly ground pepper
- fried sliced garlic
Turn on your pressure cooker to sauté mode. When the inner pot is hot add two tablespoons of olive oil with the diced onion (and celery, if using). Cook for about two minutes then add the grated or sliced ginger along with 2 tablespoons fish sauce. Stir with a wooden spoon to keep the ginger from burning. Cook for one to two minutes, scraping off any brown bits with your wooden spoon. The browned bits add flavor but you don't want to get a burn notice while the soup cooks so add a splash of stock if some of the stuck on bits prove difficult to scrape off.
Add the rice, chicken pieces and seven cups of stock. Stir ingredients together, secure and lock the lid on your pressure cooker. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes then perform a quick release (see note about cooking time and pressure release).
Once the pressure has been released, remove the lid and set it aside. Pick out the chicken pieces with tongs and shred them with two forks and add them back to the soup. Adjust the seasoning according to your preference or depending on the type of stock you used (unsalted or low-sodium). If you use the cabbage stir it now at this point. Add the last cup of stock if you want a looser soup. Arroz caldo continues to thicken as it sits so I always end up adding more liquid (especially when heating up leftovers).
Ladle into bowls and top with the recommended garnishes.
Fish Sauce and Chicken Stock: I like Kitchen Basics unsalted chicken stock or Swanson Low-Sodium Chicken Stock. Start with two tablespoons fish sauce and add more only after cooking if you feel it needs it.
Chicken Stock Quantity: Use seven cups to cook the soup and add the eighth cup later. This will help reduce the time the food comes to pressure.
Cook Time: I cooked mine at 25 minutes high pressure with a quick release but 20 minutes is plenty of time to soften the rice to porridge texture. 15 minutes should also work if you’re pressed for time but I would add three minutes of natural pressure release.
Optional Vegetables: These additions don’t compromise the flavor or texture of traditional arroz caldo but they do add more nutrition.