In all your life, you will be hard-pressed to find something as simple, soothing, and forgiving, as consoling as lentil soup. You can take things out of it or put things into it. It can be fancy or plain, and it will never let you down. – Laurie Colwin
I’m reading my way through Laurie Colwin’s classic food writing, and I’m in love. Her relaxed, no fuss approach to cooking is what I aspire to in the kitchen. She shows the beauty in the art of simple food.1
The Wonderful Lentil Soup chapter in More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen inspired this recipe – specifically, the section where she talks about “the unhealthy way” to make it – with diced bacon. I’ll admit it – I’m a sucker for lentils and pork.
1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 pound brown lentils, rinsed (2 1/4 cups)
4 cups water
15 ounce can diced tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Brown the bacon: Spread the bacon out in the bottom of the pressure cooker pot, then put it over medium-low heat (or, in an electric PC, use Sauté mode). Cook the bacon, stirring often, until the bacon is well browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, leaving as much fat behind as possible. Set the bacon on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
Sauté the aromatics in the bacon fat: Add the onion and garlic to the pressure cooker pot, and then sprinkle with the 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Saute until the onion softens, about five minutes. Add the lentils to the pot, pour in the water and then stir in the tomatoes and the reserved bacon.
Pressure cook the lentils: Lock the lid on the pressure cooker, bring the cooker to high pressure, and pressure cook for 12 minutes in a stovetop cooker, and 15 minutes in an electric pressure cooker. (On the Instant Pot, use the Manual setting, and set the cook time for 15 minutes.) When the cooking time is over, remove the pot from the heat and let the pressure come down naturally, about 15 minutes. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to avoid any hot steam.
Thicken, season, and serve: Scoop 2 cups of lentils and cooking liquid out of the cooker and puree them. (I put them in a quart measuring cup and use my stick blender.) Pour the pureed lentils back into the pot. Taste the soup, then add salt and pepper until you just taste the salt on the tip of your tongue. (I usually add another two teaspoons of kosher salt to the pot.) Serve.
No pressure cooker? No worries. Increase the water to 6 cups, and simmer it on the stove for an hour.
What to serve with it? As you can see in the pictures, I like it with a side of rice. Mrs. Colwyn says to serve it: “With a loaf of bread, a salad, and some cheese, and something or other for dessert, you have your midday or evening meal without much trouble on your part.”
Pressure Cooker Lentil and Bacon Soup
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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I’m a kitchen control freak who tends towards elaborate, exotic recipes. Mrs. Colwin’s writing reminds me to take a step back, breathe, and focus on straightforward food, cooked properly, and served to friends.↩
Pressure cooking, rotisserie grilling, and enthusiastic home cooking from a dad who cooks dinner every night.
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