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There’s nothing more classic than a chicken soup. I think it’s something that’s pretty much native to just about every culture around the world, flavoured with the local spices and/or vegetables. Cooking Asian style in a predominantly Western city means a certain limitation to the dishes I can make, add the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) to the factor and it makes things a bit more interesting. I’ve since figured out how to continue cooking AIP in a way that appeals to me and my family, combining Chinese Singaporean/ South East Asian tastes with Western ingredients.
Now back to the chicken soup. Growing up, we would occasionally have Mommy’s chicken soup made with chicken feet, which made for a mighty tasty soup with heaps of gelling. My mother would joke about asking the chicken seller whether his chickens wore shoes, as they would sometimes have a funky smell… Anyhow, I think just about every Chinese family has their own unwritten recipe for that. Talking about chicken feet reminds me of the good old days when wet markets (think of it like a farmer’s market but in an open-air permanent structure) sold live chickens. As a little girl I would occasionally tag along with my mother on her weekly marketing trips and remembered being fascinated and yet repulsed by the chicken stalls as they were smelly and noisy. Noisy from the boiler and from the squawking. Eventually the live chicken stalls closed and were replaced by
dead chicken stalls selling much quieter chickens (if you know what I mean…) in refrigerated displays in their cleanly plucked yet whole glory. The joys of modernisation with an Asian touch: no nicely trussed chickens without head and feet; we want our money’s worth, you see.
Fast forward to 2015 and I’m figuring out nourishing and fuss-free recipes that can warm my family up in winter, using easily found ingredients (your ingredient mileage might vary, depending on your location…). I find that I make more soups and bone broths during winter, as it’s easily digestible and made easier with an electric pressure cooker. I use the Instant Pot and love it, as it doesn’t make a shrill whistle like stove top ones do (or at least the one I remembered my mother using, and boy was my eldest brother afraid of it). Maybe someday I’ll get a stove top pressure cooker when I get past the fear of exploding pressure cookers (have you seen the photo of a pressure cooker lid half embedded in someone’s kitchen ceiling circulating on the net?), but for now I’m just too smitten with my electric pressure cooker and try to come up with recipes just so that I can cook in it!
This Red Chicken Soup recipe has a great balance of spicy notes with savoury, sour and sweet flavours, thanks to the combination of warming spices such as white peppercorns, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric. Do take note that white peppercorn is not strict AIP and should be eliminated for at least 30 days before gradual reintroduction. The red cabbage and red onion gives the soup a vibrant hue and adds to its warming properties. I get my tamarind paste in a small block format, but I think pure scoopable tamarind paste in a tub would work too. Just skip the tamarind kneading stage.
I used to have trouble lifting out a whole chicken from the Instant Pot but having a set of turkey lifters makes work so much easier now. It’s a simple matter of removing the chicken, shredding it and returning the meat to the pot of broth. Keep the bones and chicken frame for another session of bone broth making, if you’d like. I toss mine into a freezable zipper bag and accumulate enough bones in the freezer before making a nice big batch of bone broth. This soup keeps well, I think it tastes even nicer the next day. The family loves it so much that there’s never enough to freeze!
- 1 medium (approximately 3lb/ 1.5kg) chicken, cleaned (trussing optional but recommended)
- 1 red onion, cut into wedges
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- ½ medium red cabbage, core removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 large carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
- Enough water to cover
- 1 tsp white peppercorns (omit for strict AIP)
- Fish sauce, to taste
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 - 2 tbsp tamarind paste
- 1 lime
- Sea salt, to taste
- ½ pineapple, cut into small chunks
- 1 - 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- USING THE INSTANT POT
- Place the carrots at the bottom of the inner pot
- Place the chicken, red onion, garlic cloves, red cabbage, whole peppercorns (if using) into the inner pot
- Top up the pot with enough water to cover everything
- Seal the lid and set the valve to 'sealing'
- Set the Instant Pot to 'soup' setting for 25 - 30 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken
- Once the Instant Pot beeps, allow it to cool for 10 minutes before releasing the pressure
- Remove about ½ cup of broth and pour the broth over the tamarind paste in a bowl (omit this step if you are using scoopable tamarind paste)
- Remove the whole cooked chicken and shred the meat with 2 forks and return the meat to the pot of soup
- Once the tamarind paste mixture is cool enough to handle, knead with your hand until a thickened paste is formed. Squeeze gently and remove the pods
- Stir in the ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and tamarind paste mixture
- Add in the pineapple chunks and stir gently to combine
- Squeeze in half a lime and cut the other half into 4 wedges
- Select the 'Saute' setting and bring the broth to a simmer
- Allow to simmer for about 5 - 10 minutes
- Season to taste with fish sauce and sea salt
- Garnish with spring onions and a wedge of lime