Sometimes recipes come out of happy accidents - or running out of ingredients! Today is a travel day, which requires some advance prep to ensure we have healthy options readily available while on the road. I was all set to make up a batch of our favourite French Lentil Soup recipe from Veganomicon when I found out that we are completely out of lentils. How's that for advance planning?! I had already pulled out a few ingredients for the original recipe, and ended up coming up with this variation instead, using Heritage Flagiolet Beans from Bob's Red Mill and making use of our beloved Instant Pot. I honestly never thought I would refer to a kitchen appliance as "beloved" but discovering the Instant Pot has taken things to a whole new level with kitchen appliance love.
I love that cracking out the pressure cooker allows for quick and easy whole food meal prep. Soaking beans ahead of time cuts down the cook time even further, but even without this beneficial advance planning I was able to prep the soup in 40 minutes (from start to finish). Bringing the Instant Pot up to pressure can take a bit of time with room temperature water, so I sped up the process by boiling the water I was using in a kettle first. Cooking can be a bit of a dance in the RV, as big energy draw appliances like the variable temperature kettle, Vitamix and Instant Pot can't be operated at the same time. But with a bit of creativity we have sorted out a good rhythm that still allows for quick meal prep!
There are a few ingredients in this soup that have become staples for us, the first of those being Harmonic Arts Sea Veg Blend. I love seaweed and like to add it to everything I can, to add lots of extra nutrients and minerals to the dishes I am preparing. If you don't have something similar readily available, you can buy a variety of seaweeds and grind them in your spice grinder to create your own sea veg blend. Another ingredient we use frequently is Nutritional Yeast. We love that nutritional yeast brings a cheesy flavour to dishes that traditionally use cheese (macaroni for example) and tastes incredible on popcorn. It has an umami note to it, that lends depth of flavour to recipes like this one, without making it taste overly cheesy (when used in smaller amounts). As an added bonus, nutritional yeast contains b vitamins, which are fantastic for supporting a healthy nervous system along with mood and stress support. The last ingredient that we have added to our kitchen staples is tarragon. I was unfamiliar with Tarragon, until we tried it for the first time in the French Lentil Soup recipe I mentioned above. Popular in French Cuisine, It has a unique flavour that hooked us very quickly, and now we use it in a lot of different recipes. Tarragon is full of antioxidants and is said to be a digestive aid and appetite stimulant, which are great benefits to have along with your bowl of soup. You can read more about the many benefits here.
Rustic Bean & Vegetable Soup
2 Tbsp avocado oil
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1/2 leek, cleaned & finely sliced
1 tomato, cut into small cubes
1/2 tsp dried garlic
2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried paprika
1 tsp dried rosemary
6 cups water
2 cups flageolet (or navy) beans
2 tsp Sea Veg Blend
1 cup arugula, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp herbamare or sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
Set your Instant Pot to medium sauté (the middle of the three settings) and add avocado oil.
Sauté leek, carrot and celery for 5 mins
Add tomato & spices, and sauté a couple more minutes.
Add hot water, beans & Sea Veg Blend & stir to combine.
Turn off sauté setting and attach lid. Set to pressure cook on high for 25 mins. If you pre-soak your beans overnight, you can bring your pressure cooking time down to 17 minutes.
Quick release pressure, remove the lid and stir in arugula, nutritional yeast, herbamare and fresh cracked pepper.
If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can prepare the beans ahead of time using the directions on the package. I would suggest cooking for 1 hour in a large pot of water, 1 cup beans to 4 cups water ratio, with some kombu and olive oil in the pot, then strain and set aside. You can follow the recipe as written above, adding the cooked beans at the same time as the water and then bringing the mixture to a boil before simmering for 15 minutes. You can then stir in the arugula, nutritional yeast, herbamare (or sea salt) and fresh cracked pepper and serve.