Instant Pot Ham Hock and Lentil Soup

I’ve been trying some new recipes with lentils in my Instant Pot Duo 60, (see Instant Pot Sausage and Lentil Soup (Carraba’s Copycat) for another great lentil soup option!) and I couldn’t be happier. They are delicious, inexpensive, and my 1 year-old (who prefers most of his meals in the form of grilled cheese) loves these lentil and veggie soups. The ham bone adds savory smoked flavors; it’s a great way to use up holiday leftovers, or you can pick one up inexpensively from the grocery store.

 

Ingredients (serves 4-6):
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
3 celery sprigs, diced
1 onion, diced
Ham hock
190 grams (1 cup) lentils
32 oz. chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
⅛ tsp. garlic powder

Press sauté on Instant Pot. When display reads “Hot” add olive oil, onion, carrots and celery. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to soften, 4-6 minutes. Add ham hock, chicken broth, lentils, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Give it a quick stir and then close the lid. Press “manual” and set timer to 18 minutes. When the timer is done, let pressure release naturally before opening the lid. Stir in thawed corn until heated and serve. Enjoy!

Instant Pot Sausage and Lentil Soup (Carraba’s Copycat)

If I could pick the number one reason I love my Instant Pot Duo 60, it’s given me the confidence to try dishes I’ve never made before. I was always intimidated by lentils, but not anymore. Lentils and beans (these Charro beans are delicious!) are nearly foolproof in the Instant Pot, hearty, and very inexpensive.

I recently found myself in an airport with some time before my next flight, and headed into a Carraba’s Italian Grill for a quick bite to eat. I ordered their Sausage and Lentil Soup and immediately thought “I can make this in the Instant Pot, no problem.” Here is my copycat version of Carraba’s Sausage and Lentil Soup, and I’ll bet it cost me less to make the entire batch than I paid for one bowl at the restaurant.

Ingredients (serves 6-8):
2 slices thick cut bacon, diced
12 oz. Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes
6 cups (48 oz.) chicken broth
1 ½ cups dried lentils (270 grams)
2 tsp. Italian seasoning blend (thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
Optional garnish: fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese

Press sauté on Instant Pot. When display reads “Hot” add diced bacon and sausage. Sauté until sausage is browned, 5-7 minutes. Add onion and garlic to Instant Pot, sauté for 2 minutes more. Add carrots, celery, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, lentils, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Give it a quick stir and then close the lid. Press “manual” and set timer to 18 minutes. When the timer is done, let pressure release naturally before opening the lid. Soup can be served immediately, or let stand for a bit to continue thickening. Garnish with chopped basil and Parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy!

Instant Pot Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Ever since I got an Instant Pot Duo 60, I’ve been converting some of my favorite recipes to Instant Pot recipes to save time.  This Instant Pot Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup is one of my favorite soups – and the best part – it’s actually healthy!  So many tomato soup recipes have a TON of cream in them, but this one is made thick and creamy with the help of a little Arborio rice.  The acid in the tomatoes is balanced out nicely by a pinch of sugar and roasted red peppers. Since it’s converted to an Instant Pot recipe, it all comes together in minutes, but tastes like it’s been simmering on the stove all day.  And since the soup is so healthy, go ahead and pair it with a nice grilled cheese…nothing beats the comfort food combination of grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Ingredients (make 6 large servings):
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small or ½ large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 sprig celery, diced
1 roasted red pepper, diced
2 tbsp. uncooked Arborio rice
6 oz. can tomato paste
28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes, with juices
4 cups chicken broth
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper
1 tbsp. butter
Optional garnish – basil and parmesan cheese

Press sauté on Instant Pot.  When display reads “Hot” add oil, diced onion and minced garlic.  Stir together until fragrant, 2 minutes.  Add diced carrots, celery, roasted red pepper, Arborio rice and tomato paste.  Stir another 2 minutes until tomato paste is fully incorporated.  Add tomatoes, chicken broth, salt, pepper, sugar and crushed red pepper.  Press “manual” and set timer to 8 minutes.  When the timer is done, turn vent to release pressure quickly.  Blend well with an immersion blender or traditional blender.  Once blended, stir in butter and garnish with chopped basil and parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

 

Wine pairings:  tomatoes have a ton of acid, which pair nicely with Italian wines that have some acid as well.
Villa Pillo Borgoforte 2014
Rosa dell Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2014

Green Chile Pork Soup

Depending on the season, my healthy meal choices revolve around either soups or salads. On a chilly winter day, nothing beats a hot, steaming bowl of soup, and a savory, spicy soup like this warms you from the inside out.  Added bonus! This Green Chile Pork Soup imparts all the flavors of a typical Tex-Mex green chile pork, but is made with the lean tenderloin instead of pork shoulder, which eliminates a substantial portion of the calories. This soup also freezes well and can easily be doubled to stock some in the freezer.

Ingredients (serves 6):
2 lbs. pork tenderloin, cut into cubes
1 tbsp. canola oil
6 cups chicken broth
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
3 poblano peppers, ribs and seeds removed, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 onion, diced
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
½ bunch cilantro, tied together
1 tsp. cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice from ½ lime
Optional garnish: lime wedges, sliced jalapeno, chopped cilantro

In a large stock pot, heat canola oil on medium heat, brown cubed pork tenderloin on all sides, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Work in batches if necessary. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes, poblanos, celery, onion, potatoes and cilantro. It’s easier to remove the cilantro at the end of cooking if it’s tied together, but it doesn’t need to be. Add cumin, salt and pepper (I like lots of pepper!). Simmer for 2 hours, until pork is tender. Remove cilantro, and add lime juice before serving. Garnish with lime wedges, sliced jalapenos and chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Wine pairings:
Montgo Monastrell 2012

Chicken and Spinach Tortellini Soup

chicken-and-spinach-tortellini-soupIt seems like the seasons change in a blink of an eye, and just like that it’s winter. Right now it’s all about the holidays, football, and cooler weather comfort food. A big pot of soup is one of my favorite cooler weather meals; there are endless ways change them up, and there is always enough to take for lunch the next day! The only rule in my house is that soup has to be hearty, and this Italian inspired soup is packed with tender chicken, fresh veggies and tortellini, which combines two of my favorites – pasta and cheese!

 

chicken-and-spinach-tortellini-soup-2Ingredients (serves 4):
1 lb. cooked chicken
4 cups (32 oz. chicken broth)
28 oz. can diced tomatoes, including juices
9 oz. container cheese tortellini (can be found in the refrigerated section)
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion
2 celery stalks
1 zucchini
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper

chicken-and-spinach-tortellini-soup-3Preheat stock pot on medium-low heat. Add olive oil and sauté onion, celery and garlic until translucent, about 5-7 min. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes and Italian seasonings, and bring to a simmer. Add diced zucchini and chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn heat up to medium and add tortellini to pot. Cook according to package instructions (mine was 7-9 minutes). Stir in baby spinach and let cook one minute more. Garnish with chopped basil and grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla SoupI love this soup. It’s got a ton of flavor, great spice from the chipotle, and is so healthy. There is just something about chicken soup that is so comforting. This makes a large recipe, so it’s a perfect make-ahead-meal. I like to portion the leftovers into individual servings and stick in the freezer for a healthy lunch to grab on the go. This recipe makes a hearty meal as is, but also fun to garnish with tortilla chips and pepper jack cheese. Because who doesn’t love cheese?

 

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, cut into parts
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chipotle powder
15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 poblano peppers, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 bunch of cilantro, stems removed, chopped
Salt and pepper

Chicken Tortilla Soup 2Place chicken in a large stock pot and cover with water. Salt lightly. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, skimming any foam as necessary. Cook approximately 1 hour, until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and allow to cool, reserving broth. Shred once cool.

Add spices, tomatoes, onion, celery, carrots and peppers to the broth and bring back to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are tender, approximately 30 minutes. Add shredded chicken, beans, corn, cilantro salt and pepper (to taste) and stir until heated. Serve with chips and shredded pepper jack cheese.

Enjoy!

Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Soup

Italian Sausage and Gnocchi SoupThis comforting soup is so easy to make, thanks to the prepackaged gnocchi that cook directly in the soup. Gnocchi, small potato dumplings that cook in just a few minutes, can be found vacuum-packed in the pasta aisle (I got mine at Trader Joe’s). An added bonus – the starches from the gnocchi release into the soup while cooking, which thicken the hearty broth and guarantee to warm you up on a chilly evening. Add some spicy turkey sausage, diced tomatoes, cannellini beans, shallots and zucchini, and you’ve got a healthy, flavorful, balanced meal that is ready in about 30 minutes.

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 lb. Italian turkey sausage links (hot or mild)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz. can diced tomatoes (including liquids)
3 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. Italian seasoning
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
1 lb. potato gnocchi
2 medium zucchini, cut into small cubes
15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese (optional)

Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Soup 2Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook sausage links in shallow baking pan until cooked throughout, about 15 minutes. In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat oil on medium-low heat, until shallots and garlic sizzle when added. Sauté shallots and garlic until fragrant, about 2 minutes, add diced tomatoes with liquid, chicken broth, sugar, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper, and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Turn heat up to medium and add gnocchi and zucchini. Bring back up to a light boil, and cook 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently, until both are cooked. While gnocchi and zucchini are simmering, slice sausage links into discs. Add cannellini beans and sausage and stir until heated, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately and top with grated cheese.

Enjoy!

Wine Pairing:
Poggio al Casone Toscana 2010

(Make ahead tip: If you are planning to make this in advance, prepare gnocchi as directed on package, store separately from soup, and add gnocchi to soup as it’s reheating.  This will prevent the gnocchi from absorbing too much of the soup liquid while storing and becoming mushy.)