My kitchen has a new toy

I was talking to a colleague the other day about caramelizing onions and all of a sudden there was a pressure cooker in my kitchen.

OK. There were a few more intermediate steps than that, but that’s pretty much the gist of it:

The gist of the conversation was:

  • how caramelizing onions in a pressure cooker is great
  • pressure cookers are no longer the contrary death traps we remember from days of yore
  • they’re really no larger than a normal sized pot

The last one is particularly important for me due to the limited kitchen space available in London on my budget (ok, the “I’m not going to die horribly” bit is quite important too. But kitchen space dammit).

So when we got back the office I applied my standard impulse buy buying algorithm and on Wednesday a pressure cooker arrived. It’s this one for what it’s worth, which has a few bad reviews about longevity, but I figured I’d rather buy a cheaper one and replace it in a year or two when it turns into a mere pot than buy an expensive one and discover pressure cookers were useless.

It turns out pressure cookers aren’t useless.

I’m still not entirely used to the next day delivery thing, so I had completely failed to anticipate that I would have a pressure cooker and thus decided to make something with whatever I had to hand. The following was the result:

Caramelized onion and red lentil soup


  • 1 large red onion
  • 3 small white onions
  • a little under half a pack of butter (100g?)
  • a couple liters of chicken stock I’d made the other day
  • a lot of lentils (I honestly just poured what was left of my 2kg bag in. I think this came to somewhere around 500-800g?)
  • a bit of salt
  • a bit of brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground chipotle
  • 3 bay leaves

I am not a precise cook, OK?

Approximate process:

  1. Put all the lentils on to soak in cold water, stirring and changing the water occasionally. This is mostly to clean off a lot of what I guess is mostly lentil dust off them but tends to give them a slightly unpleasant floury flavour.
  2. Slice the onions
  3. put them in the pressure cooker with the butter, salt and sugar
  4. Let it come up to pressure
  5. Wait 5 minutes then get a phone call
  6. Panic and take the pressure cooker off the heat because I still don’t entirely believe it’s not going to explode
  7. Spend about 15 minutes on the phone
  8. Put the pressure cooker back on the heat, leave it for another 10 minutes
  9. Observe that those onions do indeed look very nicely caramelized, and also are swimming in a delicious looking mix of butter and their own juices. I’d probably have put them back on for a little longer, but they were going to cook more in the soup and I was in a hurry.
  10. Add all the rest of the ingredients – stock, lentils, spices, etc.
  11. Let it come back up to pressure (this took a while, mostly due to time it takes to boil that much liquid) then wait another 20 minutes
  12. Observe giant pot full of tasty soup
  13. Serve with crumbled feta and white sourdough bread

This was really good soup. I had seconds despite being full from the firsts and was late to the pub as a result. Totally worth it.

I mean, this would have been tasty without the pressure cooker too, but the novel thing about the pressure cooked soup was that the cooking was really even, much more thorough that I’d normally have got for the amount of liquid lost and took way less time and effort.

More experiments will need to be performed, but I think this pressure cooker and I are going to be friends.

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One thought on “My kitchen has a new toy

  1. Franklin Chen

    Pressure cookers are great. They are especially good for beans that otherwise would take much longer to cook otherwise. Of course, as you have observed, soup is really the killer app for pressure cookers. Have you checked out the pressure cooking books by Lorna Sass?

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