Tuesday, November 16, 2010


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The second thing I made in my new Cuisinart electric pressure cooker-- an old favorite: Monastery Lentil Soup.

Okay, I have to make up for lost time with Vegan MoFo!  In order to do 20 blogs this month I have to blog every remaining day in November, plus one extra!  I've been meaning to blog about my new electric pressure cooker,  but hadn't got around to it.  A good friend of mine had been raving about it and gave it to me as a gift-- and what a wonderful gift!

I was "between pressure cookers".  This was because I had a kitchen disaster.  I started cooking something in my Lagostina 5 qt. stainless steel pressure cooker (with aluminum bottom) on the stove and got sidetracked downstairs in my office. Fortunately, the pot was was not under pressure (maybe I would have heard it if it had been!). Later I smelled something, ran upstairs and I had melted the bottom of the pressure cooker! The lid was ruined and there were globs of melted aluminum in the stove element. When DH came home I told him, "The good news is the house didn't burn down; the bad news is my pressure cooker is finished!" Fortunately, we were able to pry off the solidified aluminum globs from the stove element and sand off the residue, so it was okay.

Anyway, I hadn't decided which type to buy yet, when my kind friend sent me this beautiful electric version!  Fortunately, I found a spot for it in my already crowded, small kitchen (I like to keep appliances that I use often out in the open-- fortunately I have deep counters), by shifting the smaller rice cooker to another spot.  This cooker is great-- it has a nonstick  insert and has "saute", "brown", and "simmer" modes, as well has 2 pressure settings, and "keep warm" (it automatically goes on "keep warm" when the pressure goes down).  You have to set the timer before it will heat to pressure, so it will remind you when it's done, and it will start losing pressure.  So no chance of disaster!  You can use a quick-release, or let the pressure drop naturally.  

It didn't take me long to learn how to use it, and I made a Cuban black bean soup the first time-- it took about an hour from start to finish (including pressure release) with dried beans (unsoaked)!  I'll post that recipe later.

The second recipe I made was an old favorite lentil soup recipe which my kids will remember from their childhoods.  It's so easy to make and very full-flavored.  And I love that you can saute the vegetables right in the nonstick insert. I hope you like it!  It's perfect for a cold night!


Printable Recipe

Serves 4-6
Pressure Cooker Version: Before adding the wine and parsley, pressure cook at high pressure for 8 minutes. Use natural pressure release.  Then proceed to add the wine, etc..

1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped (I like to use a food processor for this)
1 large carrot, scrubbed and coarsely grated
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
14 oz. can diced tomatoes OR 6 T. tomato paste mixed with 1 c. water
2 c. water
3 c. vegetarian broth (see this post)
1 c. dried brown lentils
1 tsp. salt
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1/4 c. dry sherry
1/4 c. chopped parsley
dairy-free soy parmesan to sprinkle on top ( we like GoVeggie! soy parmesan), or my Okara Parmesan)

In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté them until the onions have softened. Add the herbs and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, EXCEPT for the pepper, sherry, parsley and vegan parmesan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour, or until the lentils are tender. Add the wine, parsley and pepper to taste. Simmer a few more minutes and serve with the soy parmesan.



Adam said...

It's look yummy! You're pressure cooker looks great to use too.

Unknown said...

Wow, how do you like the move to the electric model? I ran across your blog searching for pressure cooker recipes, I have a few vegan ones myself, usually with an Italian twist but not always!

hippressurecooking.com - vegan recipes

Happy Pressure cooking and thanks for the Monastery soup recipe!


Valerie said...

Your soup looks fabulous!!!! It reminds me of the recipe "Lentils, Monastery Style" from Diet for a Small Planet. That recipe is special to me, because it converted me into a vegetarian, 23 years ago. :)

You've got me completely fascinated by pressure cookers -- something that I've never owned. I did some Googling to see if a pressure cooker would speed up the cooking time for long grain brown Basmati rice. The first two sites I looked at said 45 minutes -- so not a time savings at all. The third said 18 minutes -- a big improvement. I'm curious if you have experience with cooking brown rice in a pressure cooker, and how long it takes.


Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Valerie, hat was the inspiration for this soup-- way back in the 70's!

I tried making brown rice in the pressure cooker. It worked-- in fact it was very good-- but you have to put the rice and water into a bowl that will fit inside of the cooker with a little water on the bottom. It actually cooked no faster than my cheap rice cooker or just a pot, when you add in the pressure release time, so I don't think I'll use it for rice.

BTW, if you soak your brown rice (any kind) in the right amount of cooking water (I use 1 part rice and 1 1/2 parts liquid) for at least 4 hours, you can shave 25 minutes off the cooking time! I just put the rice and water (and any salt or seasonings I might be using in it, if any) in the cooking pot in the morning, and then I put the pot on to boil before dinner, cover and turn down to a low simmer, and it should be done in 20 minutes!

I'm going to try the soaked rice method in the pressure cooker and see if it is any faster that way, but, really, 20 minutes is about as fast as you can usually make dinner!

PS: You can make a lovely risotto in the pressure cooker!

Valerie said...

Thanks for the rice soaking info -- I had not heard of doing that before. Bummer about the pressure cooker not making rice cook any faster.

By the way, I only discovered your blog a few days ago, but for years I've found that when I go looking for a vegan version of some particular food (like for example if I am thinking, "There must be some way to make vegan cottage cheese from tofu,"), the best solution that I find frequently has a name that starts with "Bryanna's". (And your recipe for cottage cheese made from tofu is excellent! I have used it many times.) Thank you for taking the time to think up, perfect, and share so many wonderful helpful recipes like that.

Tom The Pressure Cooker Guy said...


I like your lentil soup and I'd like to make it own for myself. But i dont have cuisinart electric pressure cooker. Is it possible to make with normal pressure cooker?

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Tom, I see no reason why not!

spiceislandvegan said...


I am thinking about buying the electric pressure cooker then I am rethink again that I should not since I have 2 pressure cookers. I use them weekly to make soups and/or stews with beans. What is the big advantage of using the electric one. I use rice cookers to make brown rice.


Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Debbie, the electric one was a gift and I know some people don't like them, but they are safe and easy to use and hold quite a lot. Great for soups! I've heard that the Instant Pot is great, and versatile, but it's alot more expensive than the Cuisinart I have (which you can get at Costco).
Here's a comparison with stovetop pressure cookers: http://www.hippressurecooking.com/the-difference-between-stove-top-and-electric-pressure-cookers/
I didn't replace my electric rice cooker when it broke because of counter space issues, so I either soak my brown rice for 4 hrs or more before cooking on the stove (then it only takes 20 minutes or so) or you can use Jill Nussinow's method in the pressure cooker: http://www.pressurecookingtoday.com/2012/11/pressure-cooker-brown-rice-and-a-giveaway/
Here's another cook's version: http://www.tracycooksinaustin.com/2013/06/brown-rice-in-pressure-cooker.html

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Debbie, I just made a big batch of rice in the Cuisinart electric pressure cooker-- 1 1/2 cups EACH brown jasmine rice and long grain red rice (our current favorite combo), with 4 1/2 cups water and a bit of salt. Set it for 10 minutes on high pressure and then let it pressure release naturally for about 10 minutes. Perfect! I don't know why the instructions with this machine and many others call for so much water! It isn't necessary.

Mrs K said...

Thank you for this recipe! It is by far the BEST lentil soup recipe I've ever had! I've owned and cooked from your Nonna's Italian Kitchen cookbook for years now, and I just downloaded World Vegan Feast. Thank you so much for keeping me and my family fed with delicious healthy food!