Monday, October 29, 2018

Instant Pot Pork and Hominy Soup

Yet another cheat in which I convert a regular recipe into an Instant Pot recipe. I write it down because I want to remember how I did it and what success I had. The original version of this soup doesn’t really take that long if you’ve got your carnitas ready to go, but the IP version only takes 10 minutes at high pressure, which is definitely a savings. The time savings of doing the carnitas in the Instant Pot combined with the shorter cooking time of the soup makes it overall a faster dish to get on the table.

The major difference this time with the soup is that I threw in 2/3 of a large head of cauliflower I had from the farmers’ market that I didn’t have another plan for. I always want to make our more food vegetable-forward. In the past I’ve added ground kale to this soup, which is good, but as I had the cauliflower I had a hunch that small florets of cauliflower would nicely echo the texture and color of the white hominy and indeed it did. I think I will always do this in future.

My mother-in-law makes this soup with pork tenderloin, which is way less fatty, of course, but pork butt is easier to come by at the farmers’ market (at a reasonable price) and it’s nice to be able to use some of the meat for tacos and the rest in a soup.

1/2 recipe carnitas, liquid defatted and reduced by 1/2 to 1/3 (freeze the rest of the meat and glaze to use for tacos. I am freezing some of the cooking liquor to use for beans, as well)
1 medium onion, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced or put through a press
1 can tomatillos with liquid, chopped (optional)
2 large cans hominy, drained and rinsed
1/2 to 2/3 large head cauliflower, washed and cut into florets roughly equivalent in size to the hominy
8 cups low sodium or homemade chicken stock or water or a combination
12 oz green salsa or to taste (we use Trader Joe’s salsa verde these days)
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)
More lime juice as needed for brightness
Salt to taste

  1. Heat the olive oil in the same base of the Instant Pot on sauté mode (use the Adjust button to make it go to the Less setting so the onion won’t burn) add the onion. Cook over until very soft and golden
  2.  Add the pork to the pot and turn the heat up to medium high. Cook for a few minutes so that the pork is lightly browned in spots
  3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant
  4. Add the tomatillos (if using), hominy, cauliflower, bay leaves, remaining stock/water. 
  5. Use the Soup mode or Manual and set to 10 minutes at high pressure
  6. Release the pressure carefully using quick release (you don’t want to overcook the cauliflower)
  7. Add the jar of salsa (it is already cooked so will taste fresher if you don’t cook it again; feel free to add earlier if using raw salsa), stir and taste to adjust seasonings. Serve. Freezes very well and adds comfort to a cold or rainy night

Monday, October 1, 2018

Instant Pot Squash Soup

This is simply my regular Roasted Squash Soup updated to the red lentil variation and adapted for the Instant Pot. I’ve not managed to convinced my youngest child about squash or sweet potatoes (except in baked goods or pie) but the older one really loves this silky soup. So every autumn I make a batch for her and freeze it in lunch-sized portions for her to take in a thermos all winter. I like to think of it like sending a hug to school with her.
I like to roast the squash first though I wonder if you could get a reasonable result without it. I suspect that you would need to increase the cooking time and though the red lentils wouldn’t need that I doubt it would hurt them since the goal is a smooth puréed soup.

2 TBSP olive oil
cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (I use my mini chopper or a garlic press for this)
1 onion OR 2 leeks, chopped (if desired--I think I might often season only with garlic)
1-2 tsp ground coriander (I feel this is the secret to the tastiness)
1-2 tsp ground cumin (I prefer to add slightly less cumin than coriander)
1-2 tsp smoked paprika OR
1/2-1 1/2 tsp chipotle powder depending on your spice preference
1/8-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (I don't want a sweet soup, but I love adding a dash of cinnamon to savory dishes like this soup and chili)
3-5 large carrots, chopped or sliced into rounds (or an equivalent amount of smaller carrots)
1 roasted red, yellow or orange pepper, chopped (optional--last time I didn't use any)
Flesh of 2 small, or 1 medium or large roasted squash, in large chunks
1 cup dried red lentils, picked over and rinsed
8-10 cups water or stock or enough to just cover the rest of the ingredients by about 1 1/2 inches
Salt, pepper to taste
Champagne or cider vinegar to taste

  1. Use the sauté mode in the Instant Pot. Add the oil and sauté the garlic and onion/leeks (if using) until soft but not browned. It’ll smell wonderful. You might want to use the lower sauté setting on the IP so the garlic doesn’t burn
  2. Add the spices and cook another couple of minutes. I don't know if the flavors are really better using this technique, but I like to do it this way to let them bloom in the oil.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients. Close the Instant Pot and set to Manual for 10 minutes on high pressure. I suspect this is more than is really required. It’s possible that even 5 minutes at high pressure would do the trick but you want to make sure the carrots are nice and soft
  4. Puree the soup. I have an immersion blender, which makes things much easier, but you could do this in batches in a blender. However, if using a regular blender, I'd be tempted to make the soup a day ahead and cool without pureeing. Puree the cold soup and then simply reheat.
  5. Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings. Cider vinegar was a great addition this last time.
  6. This soup goes especially well with Drop Biscuits. Sauteed greens are an excellent side dish. I sometimes plop them in my soup bowl. It also freezes extremely well for winter lunches. My kids like little strips of prosciutto or crumbled herbed feta as toppings