Thursday, February 25, 2016

Steak Vegetable Soup with Pasta-Electric Pressure Cooker

My fear of cooking with pressure cookers goes way, way back to my childhood. My grand kids would say it was back in the Olden Days, because I am pretty old(en), after all. My mother cooked things in a big old stove top version of the pot known as a pressure cooker/canner. I actually own the last pressure my mother owned. It is harvest gold.  The story I am going to tell you involved the pressure cooker she owned before the harvest gold one.

The catastrophe that took place in Mama's kitchen left me traumatized and fearful at the prospect of ever using one of them. I tried, really hard, to work up enough courage to try out the old harvest gold pot I inherited from my mother. When it came down to it, however, the vision of what happened that day was still just too disturbing.

 I was twelve years old, at most when it happened. It left quite an impression on me, nonetheless!
 My mother had apparently crammed that pressure cooker to the brim with those butter beans and when the cooker began to build up pressure. That metal valve cover that looks something like a tin hat on the old fashioned pressure cookers and sits on the valve stem started to shake. Mama said that it was normal for it to shake a little like that when it was heating up. Yes, that was probably normal.

What happened next was definitely NOT normal at all! The whole cooker began to shake, rattle and roll!!  Then it started to tilt up on one side. It was undulating around on that stove top like gyroscope in motion. Mama yelled "Run, it's gonna blow!" She was near the kitchen door and was able to run out of the kitchen. Yes, run she did! I was alone in that kitchen with that metallic monster that seemed to be taking on a life of its own.

The pressure cooker continued to spin and rock at the same time. I was on the other side of the kitchen and was terrified to try to try to make it through the kitchen door. The stove was situated right next to the kitchen door and I would've had to pass within inches of that monster. I took refuge on the other side of the refrigerator! It was the nearest thing to me and it provided the most cover I could find in this predicament.

I remember sticking my head out, just long enough, from the side of the fridge to see what the cooker was doing. It was still gyrating around but had now begun to do something else. That thing had begun to spew out butter bean green goo all the way up to the ceiling. Still spinning and spewing in a circular motion, like a water sprinkler, it propelled  that scalding hot mush all over the ceiling and on everything in reach of the spit when it was on the down-low cycle. It was horrifying and mesmerizing, at the same time! The cooker continued to spit and spin until it ran out of fuel ( butter beans).

Needless to say, we spent weeks scrubbing that mess off of the ceiling, floors,walls, appliances and everything else that had been in the path of  "The Pressure Cooker from You-Know-Where!" We were still finding bits of the green stuff a year or so later in cracks and crevices, here and there. From then on, when Mama started up the pressure cooker, I found something to do outside of the kitchen until whatever was in it had finished cooking!

I remember Mama saying later, "I think I remember hearing somewhere not to cook butter beans in a pressure cooker because those thick hulls of the beans might stop up the pressure valve." Seriously? Ya think? Mama always was adventurous that way!

Okay, can you understand how I used to be intimidated at the prospect of using a pressure cooker? Yes, I used to be scared slap to death of a pressure cooker!

I research things, up one side and down the other, and I was becoming more and more interested and less fearful about using a pressure cooker. After watching videos on YouTube of folks using their electric pressure cookers to create some fabulous looking dishes and seeing the chefs on QVC cooking with electric pressure cookers, I began to rethink my ideas about using an electric pressure cooker. Everyone said they "were not the scary pressure cookers your mother used to cook with." My best friend had purchased one, had actually used it and, even more impressive, she survived the experience. I began shopping around for my very own Electric Pressure Cooker!

So, I found a really good deal on this one, a Cuisinart 6 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker. I, too, am still here to tell you I totally love using it! One of the things I make with my pressure cooker is  Steak Vegetable Soup with Pasta.
Steak Vegetable Soup with Pasta (Electric Pressure Cooker)



 Steak Vegetable Soup with Pasta

For this particular soup, I used beef cubed steak which is cut into bite-sized pieces. In addition to using frozen soup vegetables and what was left of a bag of frozen field peas (approximately 2 cups) I had in my freezer. I could have used some spinach or extra sliced okra, sweet peas or whatever, but I wanted to use up what was left in the bag of peas. This helps to add more body to the soup and also gives more interest and color.

I have long used herbs and spices to kick up the flavor of many dishes, both savory and sweet. I believe, also, in the Holy Trinity, not only in my faith, but in my cooking. You might know that in the kitchen this trio is made up of fresh onions, fresh carrots and fresh celery. Yes, I use frozen vegetables in many savory dishes but, over the years, I have come to realize that a dish using frozen vegetables can be made better by tossing in a cup or so of the trinity. I find that a few of the celery leaves, chopped up and used in soups, give a boost of flavor and color. These three items are pretty much staples in my vegetable crisper.
The Holy Trinity of the Kitchen, Onions, Carrots and Celery
Other than the cubed steak, here are some pictures of some of the other things I used in this soup..
Basic Ingredients for Electric Pressure Cooker Steak Vegetable Soup with Pasta

I also used this Garden Herb Artisan Pasta in making the soup..
Garden Herb Artisan Pasta
I almost always add herbs to my soups but this particular pasta has herbs right in its ingredients. Not only does it give added color but lots of flavor too. I didn't add but a one-half of a teaspoon of herb seasoning (Ms. Dash) because I had this herb pasta to use. Otherwise, I might have added more dried herbs.

Except for the ground black pepper and salt I seasoned the cube steak with before browning, all the other seasonings were added after the soup had been pressure cooked and just before adding the pasta to the soup.

This is the recipe for Steak Vegetable Soup with Pasta-Electric Pressure Cooker:

Steak Vegetable Soup with Pasta-Electric Pressure Cooker

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 Pounds Beef Cube Steak, Cut into Bite Sized Pieces
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil (divided)
  • 1 Cup Fresh Carrots, Finely Chopped
  • 1 Cup Onion, Finely Chopped
  • 2 Large Ribs Celery with Leaves, Finely Chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Minced Garlic
  • 1-28 Oz. Package Frozen Soup Vegetables
  • 2 Cups Field Peas or Other Vegetable of Choice (Okra, Spinach, etc.)
  • 1-14.5 Ounce Can of Low Fat Chicken Broth
  • 1 to 2 cups of Water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ms. Dash or Any Other Dried Herb Seasoning Mix of Choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1 Small Dried Bay Leaf
  • 2 Cups Dried Herb Pasta (Other Narrow Flat Pasta May be Substituted)

Directions:

  1. Place the cooking pot of  electric cooker into the cooker, plug it in, set the cooker to Browning cycle to preheat the cooking pot.
  2. Add 1 Tablespoon of canola oil to the bottom of the cooking pot and allow oil to heat for a minute or so but NOT to the point of smoking.
  3. While the oil is heating, sprinkle the salt and ground black pepper over the bite-sized pieces of cube steak.
  4. Add the bite-sized pieces of cube steak to the hot canola oil in the cooking pot, stirring occasionally, until the cube steak is lightly browned.
  5. Move the browned cube steak from the cooking pot to a bowl and set aside for a few minutes.
  6. After removing the cube steak from the cooking pot, reset the pressure cooker to the Saute cycle and add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of canola oil to the cooking pot.
  7. Add the fresh chopped, carrots, onions and celery to the hot oil in the cooker pot, along with the minced garlic. Stirring occasionally, saute the mixture until the onions become transparent. Do not overcook or brown these vegetables!
  8. After the vegetables are sauteed until the onions become transparent, add the Frozen Soup Vegetables and the 2 cups of field peas or other desired vegetables.
  9. Pour the can of chicken broth over the vegetable mix in the cooking pot and add enough water to reach the 15 cup line on the inside of the cooking pot.
  10. Cover and lock the lid of the pressure cooker in place.
  11. Attach the Pressure Limit Valve to the lid of the electric pressure cooker and make sure the mark on the "Pressure" dot on the valve matches up to the mark on the lid. Note: The use manual and instructions that came with the Electric Pressure Cooker should illustrate how this pressure valve should be positioned in order for the cooker to achieve pressure for cooking!
  12. Reset the Pressure Cooker Menu to High Pressure and set the cook Timer for 30 minutes and press the Start button to begin pressure cooking process.
  13. When the electric pressure cooker beeps to signal the end of the pressure cooking time, allow the cooker to remain with valve in position so that the pressure will release naturally on its own. 
  14. When the red pressure indicator drops down, carefully remove the lid so that steam is directed away from face.
  15. Reset the menu of the pressure cooker to the Simmer cycle and add tomato paste, Ms. Dash (or other dried herb seasoning mix), sugar, and bay leaf, stirring well to incorporate all the seasonings..
  16. Add dried pasta to the cooking pot with soup and bring all up to a simmer, stirring occasionally and cook just until the pasta is slightly tender--about five (5) minutes.
  17. Unplug the electric pressure cooker, locate and remove the bay leaf (bay leaves can be a choking hazard if swallowed) from the cooked soup and enjoy eating!
Electric Pressure Cooker Steak Vegetable Soup with Pasta
I no longer am afraid of using a pressure cooker, as long as it is an electric pressure cooker. In the two years I have owned mine, it has been somewhat addictive. I even have a board on my Pinterest account for recipes using electric pressure cookers. There are a lot of recipes and ideas for using the cookers now. I enjoy experimenting with mine with things like the soup I posted about today which, by the way, I hope you will try. It really is delicious and full of vitamins and nutrients!

I know, from my own experience, that an electric pressure cooker can save many hours of time and can be used for cooking everything from roasts and chickens to soups, chili and even desserts. Since it cooks everything in less time, it uses less energy and so saves money. In addition, because cooking is done under pressure, flavors are more intense. It is my understanding that more of the vitamins and nutrients remain in food prepared under pressure than in food prepared by many conventional methods. Also, it seems there is another added benefit of foods cooked in pressure cookers. Pressure cooked foods are generally much more digestible!!

I found an interesting blog post here on a site called Pressure Cooker Portal and here on a blog called Food Renegade. These sites, especially Food Renegade offer some pretty persuasive scientific facts about cooking with pressure and they discuss both electric pressure cookers and the newer, safer stove top pressure cookers.

On another note, I wanted to show you the great little Soup Bowl Cozy that my friend Harriette made for me last year. Because it is made of 100 percent cotton and 100 percent cotton batting, it can be placed under the soup bowl and placed in the microwave oven to reheat soup or whatever else you put in a soup bowl. The Soup Bowl Cozy can then be used to pick up and hold the bowl of soup with. No burned fingers and hands!!
Quilted Soup Cozy and Bowl

If you have been afraid to try out pressure cooking or  have been riding the fence, like I was, my advice is if you try it you might find you really might enjoy a new adventure in cooking! 

Thanks so much for taking time to stop by Mimi Mine! I hope you will come back soon!

I hope you will join me at these awesome blog link parties:
Thoughts of Home on Thursday
Homework
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Dishing It & Digging It
Cooking and Crafting with J&J

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