Minestrone Soup in the Instant Pot


This recipe is yet another variation on my many Tomato Vegetable soups that I like to make once we hit the cooler weather.  I made this on a dreary fall afternoon, and it's hearty and filling.  My son thinks it's like an Italian Vegetarian Chili sans the chili. I think it's more like my favorite comfort food casserole - Goulash or what we call Grecco.  Whatever you call it, it is good and it was quite easy to make in the instant pot or pressure cooker.  The recipe I'm sharing is for the smart cooker.  To make it in a conventional stock pot - follow my instructions that I used for my Tomato Soup - Many Way's post, from 01/06/2015.  So much of cooking is a variation on a theme anyway.

There should be a lot of good vegetables to find in the Farmers' Market. Since so much of the vegetable base is your basics - carrots, celery, onions, garlic, then peppers and squash, these things are still in ample supply in the Market.  Obviously potatoes are in now, being root veg.  You'll have to hit up your grocer for cans of beans, tomatoes and pumpkin puree if you're using it.  The pumpkin adds in bulk, fiber, and it thickens the soup. This is vegan and definitely vegetarian as it has no meat.  It depends on the pasta you use if it's vegan (some has eggs in it).  I made this soup in about an hour. The hardest part was just prepping my vegetables.

Minestrone Soup Ingredients:
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Red Onion - Medium Dice (about 1 1/2 to 2 Cups)
  • 3 Large Carrots - Small/Medium Dice (about 1 1/2 Cups)
  • 3 Medium/Large Celery Stalks - Small/Medium Dice (about 1 Cup)
  • 1 Red and 1 Green Bell Pepper - Small/Medium Dice (about 2 Cups)
  • 6 Garlic Cloves - Minced (about 2 Tablespoon)
  • 3 Small Zucchini or Squash - Small/Medium Deice (about 2 Cups)
  • 1 Large Russet/Idaho Potato - scrubbed clean and cut into Small/Medium Dice (about 1 1/2 Cups)
  • 1/4 Cup Dried Italian Seasonings
  • 1 14-16 ounce Cans Diced Tomatoes with their juices (no or low sodium, preferably unseasoned)
  • 1 Large Can Tomato Puree or Crushed Tomatoes (about 32 ounces)
  • 4 Cups Water (I used the large tomato can and filled it w/water)
  • 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 14-16 Ounce Can Cannelloni Beans - Drained and Rinsed (optional)
  • 2 Cups Dried Small Pasta or 1  Cup Israeli Couscous (optional) - cook/boil separately
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons to 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar - to taste (optional)
Directions:
  1. Put the insert into your Instant Pot or Smart cooker.  Turn it onto saute and heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until it shimmers.  Add in the diced onions, carrots and celery and sweat the vegetables until the onions and celery turn translucent and the carrots start to turn tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add in the diced peppers and the zucchini/squash and sweat the vegetables another 10 minutes, until all the vegetables begin to caramelize slightly and take on a light golden colour.  
  3. Next add in the minced garlic and saut√© for 30 seconds before adding in the dried Italian seasonings. Stir to combine and bloom the dried seasonings flavors.  Add in the diced potatoes.
  4. Pour in the cans of diced tomatoes with their juices, the tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes), 1 cup pumpkin puree, water and beans.  Add enough water to fill the pot - you may need 4 cups, or you may need less - it depends on how much room there is.  The veggies, diced and pureed tomatoes may take up a lot of room, so the additional water may be as little as 2 1/2 to 3 cups.  I have a 6 quart pot.
  5. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and either manual set to 10 minutes or set the soup function for 10 minutes.  The soup will take some time to reach pressure, then the smart cooker will reach the pressure and start counting down from there to reach the 10 minutes set.  Allow the pressure to come down naturally (NPR) for 15 minutes before releasing the steam valve and opening the lid.
  6. While the soup is cooking in the smart cooker - cook your pasta or couscous.  Drain, rinse and set the pasta aside.
  7. After the soup is done and you open the lid, taste the soup and season.  Add in the cooked pasta. Taste and adjust the seasons, adding in pepper, more dried seasonings if needed and the balsamic vinegar.  Use the salt sparingly.  As the soup cooks and reduces the flavors will intensify.  If the soup is too watery, cook it w/the lid off to reduce it down further.  Taste and adjust seasonings before serving.  Makes about 6 quarts of soup.  Keeps for 1 week.  Freeze in small batches for up to 3 months.
  8. The second way to make this soup, is to either make it as a pure vegetable soup, with no beans and or no pasta.  Or to make it with the beans and pasta.  Or with beans or pasta.  Or with beans, pasta and spinach....or kale.  Okay.  I'll stop.  but you get the point.  It can be adapted to suit your tastes and what you have on hand!

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