It’s been quiet around here. For most of the past year, it had been pretty quiet in my kitchen – as far as my own cooking was concerned. On the road a lot for shoots, cranking out recipes for a book project, being tired in the spaces in between all of that. I have been in a rut, falling back on the same eight or nine things that I cook when I don’t need to think about cooking…if that even happened at all.
I first heard of the Instant Pot through some of the paleo blogs and then full steam while working on Skinnytaste Fast and Slow. Gina mentioned it numerous times and I, admittedly, dismissed it. I’ve never been a kitchen gadget person – the egg cooker I got made me roll my eyes when I hit “buy now” (even though it’s secretly fantastic and cooks a 7 minute egg like nobody’s business).
As the year started winding down and we have been home and nesting a bit, I’ve been obsessively using the Instant Pot. I never thought I’d take to it this way but it has really inspired my cooking and revitalized my time in the kitchen. There is real power in the notion of inactive cooking – being able to add things to the pot and make a meal quickly, safely (no questions about food lingering in a slow cooker for 6+ hours) with such flavorful results. It has also cut down on the dishes to be done, which is a huge bonus – who doesn’t want to reclaim those extra 10 or 15 minutes an evening?
This soup is inexpensive, easy to throw together and can be tweaked in so many ways. I don’t always love squash soups that toe the line of being too sweet so this one is more savory. Want a hint of sweetness in yours? Add a tablespoon or so of honey or agave. If you have yellow lentils on hand, use those – they completely break down in the soup and just add body and nutrition. I’m going through a sumac/dukkah/vadouvan thing – dukkah is so tasty sprinkled on this soup. You could easily top with toasted seeds, pomegranate arils, coconut..the list goes on.
Instant Pot Sweet Potato, Carrot and Red Lentil Soup – makes approximately 4 cups
– Heat the Instant Pot on Sauté setting. Add coconut oil and heat for 1 minute or until shimmering. Add the shallot and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add the sweet potatoes and carrots, stirring to combine. Sauté for 1-2 minutes.
– Add the dry lentils, cardamom and vegetable stock to the Instant Pot. Turn off the sauté function, lock on the lid and make sure the vent valve is closed. Using the Manual Pressure setting, cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Once the timer is done, carefully (i use mitts or a kitchen towel to cover the valve) open the valve to quick release the pressure.
– Blend the soup to desired consistency. I prefer the silky smooth texture I get from my Vitamix, so I take the extra step to transfer it to the blender, puree until smooth and then replace in the Instant Pot. You can also use an immersion blender directly into the pot to puree the soup. If you want it a bit thinner, add some stock or water in 1/4 cup increments. Stir in the coconut milk and season with salt, to taste. Serve immediately and garnish with your choice of toppings. If you need to warm this through again, you can do so in the IP on the Sauté setting just until hot.
– This soup will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container. You may have to add a bit of stock or water to thin it after it sits overnight.