The Cult of Instant Pot

My daughter got me one of these infernal devices for Christmas, and I am becoming a devotee. Yesterday, I made split pea soup in it, tossing in 5 cups of water, two cups of split peas, a few carrots and tiny potatoes and a pinch of salt and garlic (garlic goes with everything), and zapped it in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes, and the results were perfection, the creamiest tastiest pea soup I’ve ever made. None of that overnight presoak nonsense, either.

I’m only mentioning it because I’ve been looking forward to day-old split pea soup all day long, and shortly I will be consuming it again. It was so quick and easy I’m going to have to fix it more often, like every day. If there are drool marks on this post, you know why.

OK, I might have to exercise a little more restraint than that, unless I am willing to be served divorce papers.


  1. chrisdevries says

    Hmm, you know that people soak split peas for a reason – to leach out some of the flatus-causing compounds.


    As I am no biochemist (my academic experience trends towards both analytical chemistry and environmental geochemistry) I have no idea how credible the article is, or the paper it cites, but it may well be true that even if their procedure does what they claim it does, a pressure cooker does it just as well, or better. Quick! Someone set up a large sample-size randomized and controlled study!

  2. says

    Did you get the “internet of things” version that you can remotely detonate, uh, control using a browser? Those are the best, and they may get you on an interesting list if you live in the wrong place.

  3. wzrd1 says

    I honestly didn’t think of making split pea soup in my electric pressure cooker!

    Although, I do dress my split pea soup up a bit by adding a ham bone into it, for small flakes of ham and the bone adding flavor as well. :)

  4. Raucous Indignation says

    Yeah, that sounds good, but you correct @wzrd1 it could use a hock or some smoked neck bones. And definitely a bay leaf or two.

  5. rickmcwilliams says

    Split pea soup is even better with chicken broth or vegetable stock instead of water. The pressure cooker is a remarkable time saver and it is energy efficient. It is great for steaming potatoes for mashed potatoes, only 7 minutes for russets, maybe 8 minutes for yukon gold.

  6. kellym says

    After my split pea soup finished cooking in my Instant Pot, I added a splash of red wine vinegar and liquid smoke before serving. Delicious. I don’t add salt when I cook, so I use more “cheats.”

  7. says

    What a coinky-dink: I recently purchased one of these without realizing that they’re the “latest thing” (or maybe I’m just noticing them more now because I have one?) I originally got it simply because I want to eat more whole foods but don’t have room in my tiny kitchen for both a slow cooker and a pressure cooker (never mind a dedicated rice cooker), but lately I’ve been seeing entire cookbooks written expressly for it. You make that soup sound so good I may have to try it tonight; I don’t think I want to know what a pressure cooker would do to a ham hock, but maybe I could start with some diced bacon and sweat the veg in the fat…mmm…

  8. says

    Oops…I’m always complaining about the lack of a preview function over at ScienceBlogs, and when I have it I don’t use it ^^:

  9. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Beans and hulls of peas are arabinogalactan polysaccharides. These polysaccharides are metabolized by the intestinal biota in the lower intestines to energy and other by-products, like methane which is a cause flatulence and is a global warming problem (the old cows farting rubric).
    I like split pea soup. I just wouldn’t be able to eat it (or any other food) everyday. Variety is what my doctor demands.

  10. Rich Woods says

    @rickmcwilliams #6:

    It is great for steaming potatoes for mashed potatoes, only 7 minutes for russets, maybe 8 minutes for yukon gold.

    Bloody hell, it’s like the 1970s all over again.

    I lived (if that’s the word) through a decade of vegetables pressure-cooked into tasteless oblivion, all because some company persuaded all too many families that pressure cooking was more efficient and wonderfully modern than normal cooking. Those tripartite veg holders were definitely the most efficient way to turn everything into equally tasteless mush.

    By all means steam veg, but use a simple steamer stack. Boil the water in the kettle first (you only need about a tea mug’s worth) and it’ll quite happily work on a low heat setting thereafter. Add extra layers to your stack according to the veg you’re cooking. Start with carrots, add potatoes, then asparagus, for example. It still won’t take more than ten minutes — less time than cooking sausages or pork chops under the grill — and the results will be far better. You can get at each set of veg whenever you want and if it tests as cooked, remove it rather than be forced to leave it to turn into mush.

    Added bonus: Homeland Security won’t kick your door down for owning a potentially explosive murderous device.

  11. magistramarla says

    My Vitamix blender is very, very good at blending raw vegetables (the ends of asparagus are my favorite), seasonings and some chicken stock into a lovely, creamy warm soup in 8 minutes. Yes, it makes hot soup right in the blender.
    It also makes frozen treats and delicious smoothies. One of the best presents from my husband ever!
    Sometimes cooking low and slow, as in cooking split pea soup all day, is just more satisfying. It also makes the house smell good!

  12. bondjamesbond says

    Why did I need to ‘prove my humanity’ to log in? Seems ironic given that atheists deny the reality of agent causality. :) ,,, But anyways here is an off topic video you may enjoy Dr. Myers

    Information is physical (but not how Rolf Landauer meant) – video

  13. Alverant says

    I put tin foil on baking sheets and roast my veg. You get a more complex flavor than just steaming. It does take longer, but it’s worth it.

  14. congenital cynic says

    I interpreted “instant pot” in a totally different way. And wondered how you made that happen.

    We have a stove top pressure cooker, but my wife is the only one who uses it, and then not that often. I do most of the cooking, and only make pea soup after we have had a ham so I can get a good stock. And the German butcher at our local farm market has superb hams done in their own smokehouse. Makes a top flight pea soup. We had both of those things a couple of weekends ago. But I wouldn’t eat it every day. Too many other great foods.

    Depends on what is on the menu what pots/pans/etc. are used, but for the pea soup it’s always made in the heavy enamelled cast iron stock pot. Love that thing. It’s not fast, but the process is part of the joy of cooking. And I generally am doing cooking for the meal of the day, and preparing one or two other things for a day or two ahead (putting meat on to marinate, soaking pulses, etc.). Many of the recipes I use require advance planning. None of it difficult, but just has to be done on a time plan. Some things should never be eaten the day you make them. Lots of examples come to mind.

    I’m rambling. Sorry. I love cooking.

  15. congenital cynic says

    @16 Alverant
    I agree with you about roasting vegetables. And you don’t even need foil a lot of the time. We do a roasted green bean dish. They are tossed with olive oil, spread on a cookie sheet with onions, garlic, seasoned with salt and pepper and baked. They are excellent. Also do caramelized brussels sprouts in a similar way, and have a pasta sauce recipe I do based on split cherry tomatoes that are roasted on parchment with other ingredients. The flavours are so rich from roasting. Ones you can’t get in a pressure cooker, for sure.

    Does pharyngula need a cooking thread?

  16. says

    I do also roast vegetables with a bit of salt and spices. It’s very good.

    I don’t think that roasting split peas would be very tasty.

  17. says

    #14: bondjamesbond

    Whoever made that video doesn’t understand neurophysiology. It isn’t surprising at all that the energy consumption of the brain is relatively constant: most of the energy consumption is involved in maintaining the chemical and ionic state of neurons. The whole point of the systems is that neurons are in a state of dynamic equilibrium.

    It’s also really silly to expect that energy is only consumed during transient activity. Figure that half the neuronal activity is inhibitory and half excitatory; both kinds of activity require the same amount of energy.

    That video was not very enjoyable. It was just stupid.

  18. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I recall on split pea soup the Redhead cooked. She added some rice. Even in the hot “soup”, the spoon stood upright on its own Very tasty, but a real belly bomb.

  19. congenital cynic says

    If the spoon stands up in a hot soup, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s too thick. I’ve made lentil soup that was thick enough that a spoon would stand up in it when it was cold. Some soups I like thick. Pea soup, lentil soup, black bean soup.

    Here’s a soup tip. Next time you steam mussels in white wine and garlic, use the broth as a base for a cream of mushroom soup. You’ll never think of mushroom soup the same way again.

  20. magistramarla says

    Yes! We need a cooking thread. I love to cook, and it would be fun to share recipes with the horde.

  21. congenital cynic says

    Yeah, roasting dry split peas would get you carbon. Not tasty.

    But anytime you can caramelize something, you almost always end up with a superior flavour. Never tried “refried” split peas. Hell, they do it with beans, so maybe it would work. My vegetarian son does refried beans very often, so maybe I can get him to give refried split peas a whirl. He won’t eat the pea soup because of the ham stock.

  22. numerobis says

    I don’t think that roasting split peas would be very tasty.

    Roasted chick peas are delicious. You first cook them, then drain them, add spices, and roast.

    I bought one before they were cool, on advice of my ex. It turns out she actually wasn’t trying to kill me.

    I’ve made a lot of yogurt, and so many beans. Occasionally I slow-cook something but that requires planning.

  23. Alverant says

    @congenital cynic #18
    I use foil so I don’t have to clean the pan. I usually mix the veg with some oil and spices and that makes for a messy pan unless I use foil.

  24. methuseus says

    You’ve sold me on it, but I don’t have $100 to spend at the moment. I’ll have to add it to my wishlist, which, I believe, won’t give you any referral income, sorry.

  25. Derek Vandivere says

    For proper snert, which I think we can all agree is the platonically perfect name for split pea soup, chopped up celeriac and leeks go in as well.

  26. says

    For roasting vegetables (also for baking cookies, etc.), I prefer parchment paper over foil. Parchment paper is silicone-coated paper, so nothing sticks to it, and it’s just as easy for cleanup as foil. It is a tad more expensive, however.

  27. wzrd1 says

    I use silicone baking mats on my pans, especially the few steel rust collector cheapie pans that I retain.
    My go-to sheets are aluminum half sheet pans (18x13x1″ sheets).

    For lentil soup, I heartily recommend sumac as a bittering/earthy taste.

    Despite the “Natural” tag, which I usually avoid (as if a spice is artificial…). The only label I dislike even more is “Organic” or non-GMO (especially when the product in question has no GM counterpart).

    Yeah, I love to cook as well. It’s relaxing! When my mother died, we had many guests over to offer their condolences. To keep myself calm, I cooked for the lot of them.