Like many people, I have an irrational fear of pressure cookers. I have long read of their advantages, especially for vegetarians who like bean dishes. Speeding up the bean cooking process would be fantastic as I already like to cook from dry beans whenever possible for better flavor. So I received a pressure cooker as a a gift and I was so excited that I ... left it unused. I especially wanted for high altitude cooking, but fear overcame me. I read that there are the old school "jiggle top" cookers, and the new school cookers that have a tighter seal. That caused confusion and the source of my fear crystalized. Everyone knows the horror stories of ruined dinners, ruined kitchens, and even injury from an exploding pressure cooker. Apparently, this almost never happens, not even in the old days, but once a belief takes hold, watch out!
So, it took my sister to decide to conquer the fear by making a fabulous lentil-quinoa soup while I was skiing. No tragedies occurred, but a great soup was the result. So today we tried a more ambitious recipe: New Mexico Pinto Bean Soup adapted from Lorna Sass's book Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure. I used my heirloom pinto beans from Adobe Milling, since they have great flavor. Here is more or less what we did:
New Mexico Pinto Bean Soup
2 C soaked dried pinto beans
1 T canola oil (while I eschew all oil, in this case the pressure cooker requires it for beans, to prevent disaster)
1 t cumin seeds, whole
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 red bellpepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 C corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
2 t dried oregano
Dash of chipotle chili powder
Dash of ground coriander
4 C water or broth
2 T tomato paste
1/2 C minced fresh cilantro
2 T lime juice
1. Sizzle cumin seeds in the oil until they pop, add garlic and brown
2. Add onion and peppers and saute one minute
3. Add beans, corn, water and spices
4. Lock lid and bring to high pressure, lower heat and cook for 8 min.
5. Remove from heat and allow pressure to come down naturally.
6. Using an immersion blender, whizz in the tomato paste until the desired consistency is achieved
7. Add cilantro and lime juice, check for seasoning and serve.