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. 


Blistered Tomato and Mushroom Ragout

This is a pretty straightforward tomato based ragout that's simple to make, but delivers big on flavor. It yields a nice sauce that's not too thick and perfect for mixing into rice, pasta or salad.

1 pint cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 jalapeno, sliced
2 tbls olive oil
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup water
2 tbls red wine vinegar
1 can garbanzos, plus half the can brine
2 tsps dry basil
1 tsp crushed pepper flakes
2 tsps salt and pepper
12 leaves fresh basil, sliced
In a large, non-stick skillet blister the tomatoes with a pinch of salt by turning up the heat and allowing them to almost burn. Tomatoes can take a nice dark char. So don't be shy.

It's easiest to do this if you're not watching the pan. Slice your other ingredients while the tomatoes are charring. Just be sure to keep an eye out that they don't go too far. It happens slow at the outset, but moves quickly once it gets going.

When the tomatoes are nicely darkened in a few spots add your Marsala, mushrooms, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Cook on medium high to reduce the wine and darken the mushrooms. About 5 minutes.

Add garlic, jalapeno, vodka, vinegar, garbanzos, remaining dry spices, water.

Simmer on medium for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are very tender and you can easily squash them with tongs. Squeeze the softened tomatoes gently with your tongs to release the juices.

Add fresh basil and simmer 2 more minutes.