Joy Manning is senior recipes editor at TastingTable.com. She blogs at OysterEvangelist.com. She enjoys all things cheap, healthy and good from her home/office/test kitchen in South Philadelphia.
I may be five-years-married and in my early-middle 30s, but I am having a crazy hot love affair: 252 degrees Fahrenheit, to be exact. That’s the temperature at which water boils—way hotter than the usual 212—inside my pressure cooker.
Some pressure cooker enthusiasts are keen on the fact that things cook in about one-third of the usual time under pressure. True, but for me the allure lies in its ability to produce slow-cooked flavor in a hurry. The pressure cooker happens to work magic on some of the inexpensive ingredients we all know can be made to taste amazing over the course of an hours-long braise—dried beans, beets, cheaper cuts of meat like brisket and pork shoulder—in almost no time flat. And contemporary models are so tricked out with safety features, there is absolutely nothing to fear.
This recipe for black bean and chipotle soup hits the table in 45 minutes. And 30 of those minutes are completely inactive: While you wait for dinner, have a glass of wine and watch the Daily Show on DVR. It is the absolute best black bean soup I have ever made, not just because it uses 90 percent pantry staples or the fact that it’s vegan, but because the slow cooker manages to intensify and meld flavors better and faster than seems imaginable until you use one.
As kitchen gadgets go, pressure cookers are pretty inexpensive and they’re so great at dinner on the fly you’re bound to save a bundle on take out. Get yourself one, and start with this soup that I promise will become a staple:
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Black Bean and Chipotle Soup
Serves 4 to 6
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 medium celery stalks, diced (about ½ cup)
1 small carrot, diced (about ¼ cup)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1½ cup dried black beans
8 cups cold water
1/2 to 1 cup raw cashews
1 cup boiling water
1 to 2 chipotle in adobo sauce(depending on your heat tolerance), plus 1 to 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Juice of ½ lime
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1) In a pressure cooker, combine the oil, onion, celery, carrot, cumin and salt and cook, stirring frequently, over medium-high heat until the vegetables soften, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2) Add the black beans and cold water and lock the lid shut. Bring to high pressure over high heat, and then, once high pressure is achieved, reduce your heat to medium, as low as you can while still maintaining a steady hiss from the pressure-release valve. Cook under pressure for 30 minutes. Use the quick-release button or allow the pressure to come down naturally.
3) Meanwhile, cover the cashews with the boiling water and allow to stand while the bean soup cooks. In a blender, combine the cashews in their soaking water, the chipotles and adobo sauce, the tomato paste and 1 ladle full of cooked beans from the pressure cooker. Blend on high until a smooth puree has formed, about 1 minute. Whisk this puree back into the soup.
4) Stir in the lime and cilantro and season with additional salt if necessary. Serve immediately, or freeze for up to three months.
Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price Per Serving
Four servings: 438 calories, 14.2 g fat, 19 g fiber, 21.9 g protein, $1.13
Six servings: 292 calories, 9.4 g fat, 12.8 g fiber, 14.6 g protein, $0.80
1 tablespoon canola oil: 124 calories, 14 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.08
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup): 46 calories, 0.1 g fat, 1.5 g fiber, 1 g protein, $0.25
2 medium celery stalks, diced (about ½ cup): 11 calories, 0.2 g fat, 1.3 g fiber, 0.6 g protein, $0.36
1 small carrot, diced (about ¼ cup): 25 calories, 0.1 g fat, 1.7 g fiber, 0.6 g protein, $0.10
1 tablespoon cumin: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $0.05
1 teaspoon salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $0.01
3 garlic cloves, minced: 13 calories, 0 g fat, 0.2 g fiber, 0.6 g protein, $0.18
1½ cup dried black beans: 1022 calories, 3.9 g fat, 67.3 g fiber, 68.6 g protein, $0.75
8 cups cold water: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, FREE
1/2 to 1 cup raw cashews (calculations are for 3/4 cup): 470 calories, 37.3 g fat, 2.8 g fiber, 15.5 g protein, $1.95
1 cup boiling water: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, FREE
1 to 2 chipotle in adobo sauce, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons adobo sauce: 20 calories, 1 g fat, 1 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.37
1 tablespoon tomato paste: 13 calories, 0.1 g fat, 0.7 g fiber, 0.7 g protein, $0.05
Juice of ½ lime: 5 calories, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, 0.1 g protein, $0.12
¼ cup chopped cilantro: 1 calories, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, 0.1 g protein, $0.25
TOTAL: 1750 calories, 56.7 g fat, 76.7 g fiber, 87.7 g protein, $4.52
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 438 calories, 14.2 g fat, 19 g fiber, 21.9 g protein, $1.13
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 292 calories, 9.4 g fat, 12.8 g fiber, 14.6 g protein, $0.75