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. 


One Pot Wonder Lentils and Barley

This is what I refer to as a one pot wonder. Basically you throw everything into the pot and let it go. After a little while you have a something that tastes like you worked really hard on it. This is a method that's ideal for lentils and barley because they both will absorb all the wonderful flavors that are sharing the pot with them. Cooking lentils and barley together in one pot is also easy because of their near identical cooking times. About 20-25  minutes. So they also take long enough to cook that the flavors of the supporting ingredients have a chance to develop and marry.

 There's very little herbs/seasoning in this dish. It relies on and really focuses on the flavors that can be obtained from a generous variety of fresh vegetables and produce. This one really takes the let the ingredients  shine approach to new heights. If you're not a fan of lentils. If you think they're bland... this recipe will change your mind. If you already love lentils, this will only make you love them more.

3-4 vine tomatoes, about 1 lb., chunked small
1 pint white mushrooms, sliced thick
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced

1/3 cup white wine
3 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil

2 1/2 tsps salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 large bunch fresh basil, sliced small

Add all of the first group of ingredients, plus oil, salt and black pepper to a large pot or oversized high sides skillet. Cook down for 10 minutes. Add wine. Cook down 5 more minutes. Add lentils and barley. Cook 3 more minutes. Add water. Cover and simmer until lentils and barley are just barely tender. Stir in basil and an additional 1/4 cup more water. Turn off heat. Recover. Leave pan sit on stove for 5 more minutes.