Instant Pot Chicken and Black Bean Soup (California, 2006, adapted)


Instant Pot Chicken and Black Bean Soup is a simply prepared soup with Mexican sensibilities suitable for a cool weeknight.  The recipe is one of many lovely soups in a 2006 cookbook from the Mother Teresa Maternity Home in Placerville, California.  The home serves as a women’s shelter with a special emphasis on housing women through pregnancy and early motherhood.  The cookbook was compiled by the Maternity Home’s board members and supporters and includes exclusively soup and salad recipes (without any explanation why).  It is a welcome change of pace from casserole recipes, and has encouraged me to work outside of my comfortable recipe repertoire.  The entreé salad recipes have been especially welcome for the waning weeks of summer.

The main attraction of this recipe is not novelty, but simplicity.  There’s a little bit of chopping involved but jarred salsa does a lot of the heavy lifting, both for flavor and texture.    The beans are canned – no need to drain them even.  I’m usually leery of meals that rely on canned ingredients, but with canned beans and jarred salsa I have good options for flavor and quality.   Herdez brand Salsa Casera is far and away the best shelf-stable salsa available, though Mrs. Renfro’s will do in a pinch.   For canned black beans I recommend S&W or Goya brand, low-sodium if available.  Lesser brands tend to be overcooked and mushy from the get-go.  Most of the beans in this recipe end up pureed so it may not make a significant difference, but these brands are nearly as good as fresh.

The original recipe predates the Instant Pot but is a natural fit.  The pressure cook option allows me the flexibility to use fresh chicken breast instead of picking apart a rotisserie chicken, which dramatically simplifies the process overall.  Aside from using fresh chicken and adjusting liquid to accommodate the pressure cook, the recipe is otherwise intact and should come together in under an hour.

And the family quite enjoyed it.   The flavor profile is predictable and comforting, but the lime juice and salsa add enough acidity to pucker the lips and keep things interesting.  The chicken and beans are a powerful protein bunch, sufficient to serve this without sides.  I passed small bowls of crumbled Cotija cheese, Greek yogurt, and tortilla chips and would recommend you do the same.  Enjoy!

Instant Pot Chicken and Black Bean Soup (California, 2006, adapted)

  • Preparation: 15 min
  • Cooking: 46 min
  • Ready in: 1 h 1 min
  • For: 6 main dish servings
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Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Place the Instant Pot into saute mode and heat the oil. When the oil is hot add the onion, stirring occasionally, and cook until wilted and translucent.
  2. Add the garlic, cumin, and pepper flakes and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  3. Add the chicken breasts to the Instant Pot and stir to coat with the onion and seasonings. Sear 1-2 minutes on each side, then press Keep Warm/Cancel to turn off the heat.
  4. Puree two cans of black beans, with their liquid, in an electric blender (or using a hand blender). Add to the Instant Pot, along with the chicken bouillon paste and stir to combine.
  5. Cover the instant pot and cook at low pressure for 25 minutes. All pressure to release naturally.
  6. Remove the lid and shred the chicken with tongs or two forks. Stir in the remaining can of black beans, salsa, and lime juice. Place the Instant Pot in saute mode to heat through. Serve immediately or keep warm until ready to serve.

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