Pressure Cooker Vegan Lentil Soup

On the myriad cooking shows I watch they often use pressure cookers. I've often wondered to myself if I need one and if I did have one, what exactly I would make with it. 

I never did buy one for myself. I always figured I had the time to wait for the same thing to happen via the stovetop. 

But for some strange reason, my mother bought one. She doesn't even like to cook. Perhaps that factored into her decision. 

When she fell ill, I found myself with the desire to make good use of this appliance on her behalf. It felt therapeutic to create sustenance from this device that she'd bought so soon before she'd become sick. 
Since it's summer and hot, I thought to myself, I can make a complex broth based soup without making the house hot simmering it on the stovetop for a long time. 

My absolute favorite soup meal is lentil soup. It's just the ultimate vegan chicken noodle soup analog. It's the food of memories, childhood and comfort. It will give you a big hug. 


Thai Inspired Spicy Lentil and Barley Soup

It's filling and light at the same time. A spicy broth filled with a kaleidoscope of textures and flavors. I wasn't sure where I wanted to go with this. I started out with some mushrooms and roasted peppers. Then I remembered I had some ginger and that became my inspiration.

I borrowed a little from several cuisines, but used classic combinations to keep it harmonious.

8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup broccoli stalk, chopped
1 poblano pepper, roasted and diced
1 jalapeno pepper, roasted and diced
1/2 a habernero pepper, roasted and diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 inch ginger root minced

1/3 cup red wine
1 tbl canola oil

4-5 cups water
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup dry lentils

2 tsps paprika
2 tsps cumin
1 tsp cayenne
2 tsps thyme
2 tsps salt
2 tsps black pepper

Roast the peppers in a 450 F oven for 10 minutes.

Add the first two sets of ingredients to a large pot, plus 3 cups of the water and the salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, uncovered and simmer for about 12 minutes. Until liquid had reduced by 1/3 and the broth is dark color and rich in taste.

Add remaining spices, barley and lentils and another cup of water. Simmer covered for 10 minutes. Remove cover and continue simmering until barley and lentils are al dente, about 7 more minutes. Add additional water as needed to keep the contents of the pot at a soup consistency.

When barley and lentils are al dente, turn off heat. Cover the pot again, leave on the warm burner and allow to sit for 10 more minutes.