This is a template to employ some good ol’ chop therapy, clear out your fridge, and make some soup while you are at it. I call this a template because the base recipe can be adapted to any ingredients you have on hand that you want to use up, that have nowhere else to go. Random sausage links, throw them in. 2 ugly carrots, sure. Stale baguette that’s too dry to do anything with, absolutely! Old can of black beans with no future, use it up!
Infinitely Adaptable Instant Pot “End of the week” Soup
Makes 6-8 hearty servings
See Notes at the end for variations and suggestions
4-6 sausages (sliced, or crumbled, if fresh)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for serving)
1 large or 2 medium onions, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cups of diced vegetables (peeled carrots, celery sticks, tender stems of greens such as chard, spinach or kale, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, squash, thinly sliced leeks)
1-1/2 cups green or French lentils, rinsed well and soaking in water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4-6 cups of water or broth/stock (vegetable or chicken), or a combination thereof
1 big bunch of greens such as chard, spinach or kale (or a combination thereof), tough stems discarded, tender stems diced, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
Leftover baguette or bread, torn into chunks (optionally toasted for a few minutes with olive oil)
Few dashes of Tabasco sauce (optional)
Few sprigs of fresh cilantro, parsley, chives or scallions, chopped (optional)
Drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil
5 1/2 minute egg or poached egg
Grilled or toasted sliced baguette
Turn on the Instant Pot in Sauté mode (on Medium heat).
Once hot, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the pan and cook the sausage until almost completely cooked and crispy (about 8-10 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, take it out of the pan, leaving behind the rendered fats in the pan. Set aside.
Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil to pan if there isn’t enough fat, and sauté onions until slightly tender, about 4-6 minutes. Add garlic, and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Add the diced vegetables to the pan, one kind at a time, cooking for 2-3 minutes for each kind of vegetable. Add the vegetables with longer cooking time first (squashes, potatoes), and shorter cooking time last (carrots, parsnips, celery).
Drain the soaking lentils, and add to the pan, and sauté for 2-3 minutes more. Season the mixture generously with salt and pepper. Add the all purpose flour and stir until it coats the vegetables uniformly.
Add the water or stock/broth, and switch the Instant Pot to Pressure Cook mode, and pressure cook (with vent sealed) on High for 5 minutes. Once done, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, and then release manually the rest of the way.
Switch Instant Pot back to Sauté mode on Medium heat, and stir the soup well. If the soup seems too thick, add 1/2 cup or so of water or broth. If it is too thin, cook for additional 5 or so minutes longer.
Add greens (chopped leaves) to the pan and stir well. For tougher greens, such as kale and chard, cook for 2-3 minutes. For tender greens such as spinach or baby kale, simply stir into the hot soup until wilted. Add cooked sausage back to the pan and warm through for 2-3 minutes.
Adjust seasonings (salt, pepper) and add hot sauce or Tabasco sauce if using. Add chunks of torn leftover bread, if using. This will thicken the soup as it sits.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with crumbled bacon (if using), additional croutons and a big drizzle of olive oil. Eat in peace while admiring your clean and empty fridge, while also reveling in the joy of having multiple cozy meals sorted for the week.
Suggestions for Ingredients
- If using thick cut bacon instead of the sausage, cook it in the beginning (as you did with the sausage), and use as a topping after soup is ladled into the bowl.
- If using meat (such as boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs) instead of the sausage, cook in the Instant Pot in beginning (in batches if required) until golden brown (4-5 minutes on each sides). Take out of the pan and cut into 1-inch pieces or shred it. Add back to the soup just before adding the greens, and cook through.
- If using meat (such as bone-in, skin-on chicken breast or thighs), cook in the Instant Pot in beginning (in batches if required) until golden brown (4-5 minutes on each sides). Take out of the pan, and add it to the soup just before adding the broth/stock. Once pressure is released, transfer the chicken to a cutting board, remove the skin and bones, and chop into a large dice or shred it. Add it to the soup after the greens are cooked, and warm through.
- If using dry beans instead of lentils, pressure cook for 6-8 minutes instead of 5 and allow complete natural release.
- If using canned beans instead of lentils, follow the recipe until all the vegetables are added. Add salt, pepper and all purpose flour, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the broth/stock and cook on High Pressure for just 3 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, and then release the rest of it manually. Add canned beans (rinsed off the canned liquid), then the greens, and continue the recipe.
- To make this into a tomato based soup, skip the all purpose flour, and add 2 cups of puréed or diced canned tomatoes and only 4 cups of the broth.
Suggestions for Flavor profiles
- Mexican: Black bean soup with carrots+celery, flavored with dried oregano/cumin powder, and topped with crumbled chorizo and a dollop of sour cream (skip the greens, skip the canned tomatoes)
- Italian: Squash, white bean and kale soup with Italian chicken sausage (skip the canned tomatoes)
- Italian: Potato, white bean and sausage soup with a dollop of sour cream and crumbled bacon (skip the greens and canned tomato) for a healthy-ish version of a “baked potato” flavored soup
- Moroccan: Spicy chicken stew with colored bell peppers, spinach and paprika, with crushed red chilies on top (use chicken thighs)
- Asian: White beans, chicken breast (shredded), thinly sliced leeks, green onions, sweet corn, topped with chives.
- Indian: Cauliflower, chickpeas, spinach, seasoned with grated ginger (to be added while adding the sliced garlic) and ground garam masala, or curry powder.