I Did It.
Can You Do it?

Epiphany with the Instant Pot
By Bobbie Jo Lieberman

“Prep time is often a deal-breaker for healthy foods prepared from scratch. With the Instant Pot, you can tame the clock and come out looking like a pro.”

Few meals rival the taste and comfort of homemade veggie soup on nippy winter nights. For years my husband Kenny and I have prepared soup on the stovetop. It was an all-afternoon affair—first the chopping, then the sautéing of onions and mushrooms, then adding the remaining vegetables according to their density in an effort to have everything done—but not overdone—at the same time. Then, simmering for hours. With all the taste-testing for doneness, it was also a somewhat messy process. Because soup-making was such a huge production, we made a large pot and froze it into individual portions.

Then along came the Instant Pot.

I’d been hearing rave reviews of this fancy, newfangled pressure cooker for months, and the folks at E4 A.L.I.V.E. included it in their meal planning program. Was it worth the investment? One day a health website noted the Instant Pot was on sale for one day on Amazon. I paid a visit and seemingly on a whim, bought the thing. I was soon to be the proud owner of one of these trendy appliances.

But would we actually use it?

It sat in the box for a few months while we continued to make soup on the stovetop. I have to admit, I had some apprehensions around it. Would the shiny silver pot with the heavy-duty lid explode or leak under pressure? Would we burn ourselves letting the steam out? What if we messed up the timing and created epic failures?

 

In early October, Kenny and I packed up to head from Texas to our home-in-progress in New Mexico, where we have been building a ranch for the last three years. The still-unopened box mocked us from one corner of the kitchen. Should we bring it along just in case? New Mexico winters could be very cold, and our guest quarters had no stove.

 

We packed it along. And boy am I glad we did!!

Our first Instant Pot veggie soup turned out wonderfully.

And every soup since then.

This appliance is a game-changer.

 

Now we chop, rip and slice the veggies and toss them into the pot in any order. I sprinkle on spices—garlic powder, ginger, cumin, basil, parsley and turmeric—and a touch of sea salt. Pre-cooked fresh beets (two to three minutes in the microwave). Broccoli and cauliflower. Brussels sprouts (my personal favorite). Kale and collards and spinach and Swiss chard. Bok choy and celery. A single carrot (and/or a small purple potato if your blood sugar allows). Red lentils and tri-color quinoa. Baby bella mushrooms, chopped. And onions, of course, both the regular kind and the more delicate scallions. No oil is needed!

 

Canned low-sodium beans—black, pinto, garbanzo, adzuki, cannellini, great northern are a great addition to your soup. You can toss some in or, since they are already cooked, you can wait and add them to your portion once the soup is done. Of course you can also pre-soak raw beans before making your soup.

Disclaimer: Before you begin, please read the book that comes with your Instant Pot. The following is a description of how we use the pot within the confines of its proper use according to the instructions.

  • Remove inner pot and fill with veggies, herbs and spices.
  • Put the inner pot back into the outer pot
  • Add several quarts of boiling water sufficient to cover most of the contents. This will help shorten the cooking time (for most chunky veggie soups, the pressure-building time will be about 15 to 20 minutes).
  • Put the pressure lid on and lock into place.
  • Punch in “Soup/Broth” mode. We use the low pressure setting for 10 minutes (this number is adjustable).
  • Once the pot reaches pressure, it will count down to zero and go into low heat mode.
  • Turn the steam valve, which sits on the lid, into the release position.
  • When pressure has been released, the float valve will drop down, signifying the pot is now safe to open.
  • By now, the delicious aroma of fresh veggie soup fills the air, and we circle round the pot with ladles, mugs and spoons.

The soup has endless variations. We often add organic sauerkraut (we love WildBrine’s many varieties) to the finished soup. Cubes of tofu. Sliced avocados. Dulse. Spirulina. Nutritional yeast is amazing. As mentioned above, beans. Just this morning (yes, soup is good for breakfast, too), we added some roasted pumpkin seeds for extra crunch.

 

We declare each pot of soup the best we’ve ever made. And with each passing day (one pot lasts us about three days), the flavors grow richer and more blended. The soup tastes as if it has been simmering on the stove for hours—actually better.

 

Prep time is often a deal-breaker for healthy foods prepared from scratch. With the Instant Pot, you can tame the clock and come out looking like a pro.

 

In just a few months, our Instant Pot has become an indispensable helper on our journey to healthy, delicious, no-fuss, easy meal prep. It stands proudly next to our VitaMix, which has faithfully made us green smoothies every morning for the last several months.

If you’ve ever been tempted to try an Instant Pot, you won’t be disappointed!!

Steps on the Journey from Participants

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