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. 


Vegan Umami Broth with Beans and Veg

When you want depth of flavor in your vegetable based soup or broth there are two key ingredients.

Mushrooms and nutritional yeast.

All the other components are important too, but without mushrooms, yeast or both, it's tough to get that really satisfying oomph from just veg.

These things have what chefs and foodies call umami. They have this wondrous ability to make your taste buds stand at attention so that they notice the symphony of flavors you've put into your food.

1 pint white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 long hot pepper, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 serrano pepper, minced
3 puya chiles
2 japonese chiles
3 cloves garlic, smashed, sliced

1 can garbanzos, plus 2 tbls can broth
1 can red beans, rinsed

6 cups water
3 tbls olive oil
1/3 cup nutritional yeast

3 tsps salt
2 tsps black pepper
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp coriander seed
5 pieces allspice
5 pieces clove
handful fresh basil

In a large stock pot saute the mushrooms and onions with 1 tsp of the salt in 1 tbl of the olive oil until nicely darkened. Add the garlic and get that some color too. Don't skip these steps. They do matter. Caramelized mushrooms, onions and garlic will add way more depth.

Add remaining ingredients, except the basil and beans. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add beans. Continue to simmer uncovered for 10 more minutes. Add basil. Simmer 2 more minutes.

I recommend putting your dried chills and seed spices into a mesh container or cheesecloth that you submerge in the pot. That way you can extract the flavor and still easily remove them later. It's not that tasty to bite down on a piece of allspice or partially hydrated dried chili.

You can serve it hot from the stove top. For even more intense flavor, allow it to rest overnight in the fridge. As my favorite TV chef (Alton Brown) would say, your patience will be rewarded.