Each week this summer, I’ve made a vegetable-based soup to have for lunches or to round out a salad dinner that uses up leftovers. In order to increase my INSTANT POT (IP) skills and to see how many of my soup book’s recipes transfer well to this medium, I’ve mostly made them in the IP or multicooker–-the real name for the electric pressure cooker that’s also a sauté pot and a slow cooker. Like folks call all tissue “Kleenex,” we tend to call most multi cookers “Instant Pots.” (Note: I like my regular slow cooker much better than the IP version.) To get food cooked in a flash is the main idea with IP recipes and while I’m rarely in a hurry (in fact, it’s just the opposite in my kitchen), I get the idea. In fact, I do enjoy throwing things in a pot, turning it on, and then being able to disappear to the treadmill or a good book. Magic! Another excellent reason to cook soup this way is there’s much less heat in the kitchen with the stove off.
My friend Helen came over last week for an Instant Pot (IP) demonstration and to share a quick lunch we would make together. Well, actually I prepped; SHE cooked! Helen thought she wanted an Instant Pot–or similar–but needed to see it up close and personal before she made a final decision. While she enjoyed the Cream of Pea Soup with Scallions, Mint, and Sharp Cheddar we made, she was interested in meat main dishes–thinking she’d like to skip using the stove once in a while. It’s a wonderful idea, especially come summer, but not something I’ve done a lot of. I tested chicken recipes for America’s Test Chicken last year (see their new book!) and the rest of my electric pressure cooking has been vegetarian or oh-so-close. Just working my way through the process, I’d guess, but it was definitely time to branch out. By the way, she went home and ordered her IP! YAY!
Stove top version included in the printable recipe below.
A few years ago, next-door neighbor Mike brought over a big dish of peas with pearl onions and fresh mint for the Easter potluck (he did that again this year as peas and mint–mushy or not– are a standout comfort spring bonus with lamb) and Easter Monday I discovered he’d left a big bagful in my fridge. It seemed time for some sort of pea soup and you’ll find that post here. I loved that soup to death, but had sort of forgotten about it in the interim. It wasn’t split pea, though it might have been its third cousin twice removed. Not dark and smokey with bacon, nor a homey thick, tummy full soup you’d want in the thick of winter, this was pea soup gone light and bright–and it was a gorgeous hue. (What are mushy peas?)
Working on the recipes for an Italian-Style Easter Dinner Class, I knew I wanted to include an INSTANT POT (IP) something for fun, interest, change of pace, and because so many people ask me about IP. After testing any number of recipes for an upcoming cookbook (not mine), working on translating a few of my own soup recipes to IP, and reading a couple of IP cookbooks, I decided– given the Italian theme and the stellar risotto coming out of the IP– that the recipe had to be risotto. And since it was spring, that meant asparagus. Of course it’s Lent, so fish needed to make an appearance for Friday. It needed a bit of thinking…
Some nights it doesn’t have to be anything fancy-schmancy. We’re not talking a New Year’s Eve buffet or grandma’s Easter brunch. Just a warm, filling dinner that didn’t take forever to make or clean out the bank account. Something all in one pot; something all in one warm bowl. Maybe a little cheese or crackers on the side. A container left for lunch the next day or to take to a neighbor–my favorite solutions for leftovers.
Whether or not I’ll stick to it, I don’t know. My goal is to use the Instant Pot (IP) for more than testing recipes for other people’s upcoming cookbooks. It’s not that I’m not a gadget person; I am–sort of. It’s not that I’m out of room…well, I almost am. If another pot this size arrives in my house, it’ll need to be stored in the trunk of my car. In other words, to buy anything new and large will require a trip to Goodwill carrying a piece of equipment of equal size.
No IP? Stovetop directions included below recipe.
Need a little basic Instant Pot (IP) info? Scroll down to bottom of post.
I not long ago had a chat with a fellow food writer. No need to mention names and you’ll see why. The subject of Instant Pots came up. This person pointed out the box that had been sitting for weeks, maybe months, in his/her closet. And, yes, you know what was in that box: an Instant Pot. (IP). A slow shake of the head, a flutter of the eyelashes, and a tiny slide of the mouth to one side indicated distaste with even touching that parcel, much less figuring out how to cook with it. “Someday,” s/he shrugged.
What is an Instant Pot anyway? (People ask this regularly in the winter of 2018.)