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. 


Creamy Tofu Sauce Vegan Pasta

I decided to try a new idea. For extra protein I buzzed up in a blender some silken firm tofu with the liquid from a can of chick peas. I then added that to a sauce I was creating in a large saute pan. It's an easy way to bump up your protein intake, even if you don't care for the texture of tofu. We're turning it into a liquid element in our pasta sauce.

What it's going to do is combine with the starch of the pasta and beans to create a creamy mouth feel that mimics the addition of cheese and milk. It's incredibly satisfying to get that rich texture on a vegan pasta dish.

You do have to be careful when using tofu in this way. Because like water, it has no flavor of its own, It can actually dilute the flavors when you mix it with other ingredients. The trick is to use strong accompanying ingredients and a generous amount of fat and salt to make sure that the tofu adds viscosity without detracting from the other elements. This is just a skill you gain as you learn to cook vegan. The more you cook with it, the more you begin to understand how this tricky ingredient can be harnessed to make your food better. This recipe is an excellent example of just how to accomplish that.

1/2 pint cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 large tomatoes, chunked
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 poblano, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced

8 ounces elbow pasta
1 can garbanzos

1/2 cup white wine
3 tbls olive oil
1 tbl garlic chili suace

2 tsps thyme
2 tpss basil
2 tsps nutritional yeast
2 1/2 tsps salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp crushed pepper flakes

1/2 block silken firm tofu
all liquid from 1 can garbanzos

Cook and drain pasta. Coat with a thin layer of olive oil and set aside. This will keep the noodles from sticking together and clumping.

Add all veg to a large saute pan. Season with salt and pepper. Saute in olive oil until barely tender.

Add wine and cook down for 10 minutes .

In a blender puree together tofu and chick pea can liquid.

Add tofu puree to veg mixture. Also add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 7 minutes. Or until reduced by 1/4.

Pour hot veg sauce over set aside pasta. Stir to combine. Cover. Let rest 5 minutes.