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. 


White Wine Tomato and Carrot Ragu

A sweet and acidic combination that works over pasta, rice or beans. I made this as a sauce for fresh pasta, but wound up using it on its own with rye toast and homemade vegan pesto.

Italian inspired, but with a Spanish soul. It's as easy as it is tasty.

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 lb baby carrots, sliced into wide strips
1 poblano pepper, sliced into thin strips
2 handfuls spinach
1/2 pint cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 small red onion, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

2 tbls olive oil
2/3 cup white wine
2 tsps thyme
2 tsps crushed pepper flakes
2 tsps salt
1 tsp black pepper

1 large handful fresh basil, chiffonaded

Cook the mushrooms and carrots down over medium high heat in the oil and salt until tender. Add wine, peppers, tomatoes, garlic. Simmer until the tomatoes begin to give up their juice. Add remaining dry spices and spinach. Simmer 7 more minutes. Add fresh basil. Turn off heat. Let sit 2 minutes.

For the pesto simply puree several large handfuls of fresh basil leaves (stems removed) and 1/4 cup almonds in a food processor while slowly drizzling in 1-2 tbls olive oil until the desired consistency is achieved. Season with salt and pepper to taste.