Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lentil Soup Pressure Cooker Style

I love thick, rich, stews and soups.  I love rib sticking stuff that makes your nose run.  Anything you can eat with an enormous, crunchy, crispy, hot, homemade roll slathered with butter makes me happy in the depths of my soul.  I live in Austin, Texas, the days cold enough to truly enjoy said culinary exultation are few and far between but when they hit, they hit hard!  I have a finite period of time to shovel said giant bowls of goodness into me.  The temperature dropped from 81 to 40 in 90 minutes, GO GO GO!  I dash to the cupboard, lentils!  I need to hurry, the temperature could climb!  

Hello Mr. Pressure cooker... how YOU doin.?

Tracy's Speedy Lentil Soup *in the pressure cooker* 

2-3 slices of bacon, sliced thin
1 onion
2 carrots
1 bay leaf'
stock or water of your choosing
herbs of your liking (I use dry thyme and Herbs D'Provence)
1 bag of lentils, picked over for rocks or other mysterious things you don't necessarily want to ingest. 

I have a 'brown' setting on my pressure cooker so I can fry things in there before I pressure them.  If you don't, go get one that you can, it makes life easy.  If you can't go get one then use a fry pan and fry your bacon and onions then dump them in your pressure cooker. 

Brown the bacon and just leave that fat in there!  Cut the onion and carrots into small pieces and toss them into the bacon fat to fry for a few minutes, we don't want too much color but we do want softness before we cook, it adds a surprising amount of flavor all the way around.

Throw in your picked lentils, the bay leaf, herbs, pepper (salt at the end!) and then cover it all by a few inches with water or stock. 

Lock and load, 10 minutes. 

I used this time wisely, I found a few rolls in the freezer I'd made

and popped them in the toaster oven, frozen, on the 'toast' setting.  In mine, it thaws them and crisps them up to perfection.  

DING!  Time is up!

My electric pressure cooker, the NESCO,  comes to pressure then starts timing.  When the time is done, it DINGS and switches to "warm".  I generally release the pressure manually because I have no patience whatsoever. 

Release the pressure, carefully!  and stir.  Add water if it needs it, depends on how thick you like it.  THIS is the time you taste for salt.  

Now then, you can eat it like this, DELICIOUS but I shove a stick blender in it and whir in one spot for about 5 seconds. (yes, I did time it for you)  It blends a little bit of the soup and when you stir that around, adds richness and a thicker consistency.  Remember, I have so few hours of truly cold weather where we need rib sticking fare, I have to go to the maximum opportunity immediately.  

Ok, I just realized, this is the ONLY picture I took of the meal...  that has to tell you something about the level of deliciousness.

You can drizzle a little olive oil over it, plop a joyful spoonful of sour cream on it.  You can sprinkle fresh herbs or just have it plain,  You can transfer it to a blender and completely blend it to a smooth soup like split pea.  There are so many options with this base.

I like to serve it in giant bowls with said crispy, heavily buttered, rolls and curl up on the couch with a fire or a great movie and eat.  

I confess, I have never been able to have only one bowl of this stuff. On this night, I ate 3.  

If you use a little less water, it makes a killer side for roast chicken or even with rice as a North American version of Dal.  I think this is one those perfect foods.  If you have a hankering for a protein, make this and shred some simply roasted (or pressure cooked!) chicken on top.  You can also shred ham or slice sausage on top.  I don't like this with beef for some reason but all the others work great.  

Go now and make this.  You and your tummy will be delighted and the subsequent warmth that will be travelling around your soul will fix whatever may be ailing you.


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