Pressure-cooker soups

Haven’t been able to take a decent picture of a soup despite having nearly worn out my pressure cooker making variations of the Modernist Cuisine carrot soup.  The at-home version uses the pressure cooker and adaptations to make your own “carotine butter”.  The first go round, I followed the instructions to the letter and made a very decadent soup indeed…each serving probably has 1 to 2 ounces of butter in the finished product.  I found that too heavy and actually prefer a more palatable amount of 1 tablespoon per serving.  I have tried with homemade carrot juice using the Vitamix, which works pretty well, however, I believe I prefer Bolthouse juice.  I’m not sure what they do differently.

Here are my modifications for “Caramelized carrot soup” –

Hardware:  pressure cooker, an immersion blender, and a fine strainer (the latter 2 can be replaced with a Vitamix or equivalent blender).

Foodware: bag of baby carrots sliced vertically (or not) (~ 500 g); 1/2 stick butter; 1 1/2 tsp salt; 1 1/2 tsp baking powder; 2 T water; 500 ml carrot juice.

Heat butter in pressure cooker over medium heat.  When sizzling; add carrots, salt, and soda.  Stir.  Snap on the lid, bring to pressure, cook for 15 to 20 minutes shaking every few minutes (important b/c with this little liquid, you may scorch your carrots).  Rapidly depressurize by running warm water over the top of your cooker.  Open carefully and you will have the most amazingly caramelized carrots…its higher pH from the soda that speeds the Maillard reaction.  Blend in the carrot juice and heat until steaming.  Strain thru fine strainer and serve.  I like to garnish with some herbs and croutons.

You can use this technique with literally any vegetable you like.  Just use about about a pound or 500 grams of vegetable and use how every much liquid to get your desired consistency.

Favorites thus far are 1) carrot; 2) parsnip and apple – liquid chicken stock; 3) cauliflower – liquid chicken stock; 4) broccoli and cheese – liquid vegetable stock; 5) butternut squash + a little curry – liquid chicken stock garnished with some toasted coconut and almonds.

Even with the butter, depending on your serving size, the soup is only about 250 kcal per cup + garnishes.  An entree sized portion is probably 400 to 500 kcal or so, if you go lite on the garnishes and have a side salad, not a bad dinner at all.

Addendum (2/8/13):  These soups also make great sauces.  I’ve use the carrot soup as a base for ravioli and last night used leftover cauliflower soups as a base for seared scallops.

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