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Pressure Cooker Thai Red Curry Lentil Soup To The Rescue

I think I might start a series called "Instant Pot Diaries" where I can share my experiments and fails and not just the successes because otherwise I think it makes it seem like everything I make works like clockwork the first try. This couldn't be farther from the truth, to be honest. Some things come out perfectly the 1st, 2nd and 3rd times and other things require a bit more tinkering. From now on, when I am offering tips, lessons learned, failures and other times where I fall flat on my face, I will tag it "instant pot diaries" so you can have all of my shame in one convenient place.

Last week, I tried to cook a whole spaghetti squash in the pressure cooker so that I could use the stringy squash to make a noodle dish. I cooked it on HP (high pressure) for 20 minutes and used QR (quick release) but it was overcooked. Parts of it seemed okay but the majority of the squash was sort of mushy so, although delicious, it was not going to be able to stand in for any kind of noodle. I packed it into a storage container, threw it in the fridge and tried to forget about it for a couple of days.

Every time I opened the fridge, there it was. Staring me in the face. Judging me.
What to do with this mushy squash?
When all else fails, make soup.

Because I have a cold and am not very hungry, the only thing that sounds good to me right now is Thai Red Curry Lentil Soup was born. The squash added lots of texture and a nice sweetness and I threw in a bit of solid gold -I mean cauliflower- for even more texture and thickness.

Here is the honest flub on my first go:

I had a bag of frozen turkey stock so after I got it all ready I threw that in and tried it for 12 minutes. I saw that the time was at 11, which meant it had been cooking for one minute but no hiss, nothing. I tapped the pressure valve to check the progress and there was nothing. No steam = no pressure.

I took off the lid, saw that there was still a big chunk of frozen stock, hit stop and tried again. This time it built up some pressure but not much. It did cook after another 12 minutes (10 minutes NPR) but I think the frozen block of stock messed with it. Lesson learned - if you are going to throw in frozen stock, heat it on saute until most of the stock has melted and proceed. I wouldn't worry about overcooking since you want everything soft and mushy for pureeing anyway.

Pressure Cooker Thai Red Curry Lentil Soup

makes about 2 1/2 quarts
* use vegetable stock and leave out fish sauce to make this vegetarian

1 tbls coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbls ginger, grated
1 tbls thai red curry paste (if you want it spicier, use 2 tbls of curry paste)
3 cups broth (chicken, vegetable or, because I had it, turkey)
1 398 ml can coconut milk
1 cup red lentils
1/2 small cauliflower, chopped small
2 cups cooked spaghetti squash
1 tbls fish sauce
pinch salt
juice from 1 lime, more to serve with
cilantro to serve with

Heat the pot on saute and add the oil when it says it's hot. Saute the onion for about 2 or 3 minutes until it just starts to take on some colour, add in the garlic and ginger and saute 1 more minute. Now put in the red curry paste and saute that for about 30 seconds to a minute - don't let it burn. Pour about 1 cup of the broth in and stir the curry paste into the broth until it's all dissolved.

Add in the rest of the ingredients, lock on the lid with the valve closed and cook at High Pressure for 15 minutes. Natural pressure release for about 10 minutes before releasing the last of the steam. Open the lid and puree the soup with an immersion blender.

Serve with a wedge of lime and some chopped cilantro and some fresh chilis if you really want to make it spicy.

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