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. 


Italy Meets Thailand Vegan Stew

This is a sweet and spicy concoction that has surprising nuances to offer. The mushrooms are meaty. The tomatoes provide acidity. The black beans fortify the broth into a rich sauce. Ginger and basil smack of Thailand. The sweet tomatoes and earthy mushrooms whisper of Italy. It's weird, but it really works.

There's a lot of flavor to be extracted from this rather mundane list of ingredients. It just takes a little bit of passion and the right techniques.

8 ounces sliced white mushrooms
6 ounces white onion, diced
4 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/2 a hot banana pepper, chopped
1/2 inch fresh grated ginger
1 large handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

1/3 cup Marsala wine
1 tbl canola oil

1/2 cup cooked white rice
1 cup drained and rinsed black beans

2 tsps salt
2 tsps black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne powder

Add oil and heat a large skillet. Cook mushrooms on medium high heat for 5 minutes. Add wine, onion and tomatoes. Cook 5 more minutes. Add jalapeno, banana pepper, ginger and garlic. Cook 2 more minutes.

Stir in rice and beans. Simmer 3 more minutes.

Add salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne and basil. Simmer 2 more minutes.