There's nothing like a new cookbook to inspire creativity in the kitchen. Just before Christmas, I received an advance copy of From Freezer to Cooker: Delicious Whole-Foods Meals for the Slow Cooker, Pressure Cooker, and Instant Pot by Polly Conner & Rachel Tiemeyer, and I used up quite a few Post-It flags marking recipes I wanted to try. (It's going to take me a while to work through all these.)
So far, what we've taste-tested from this cookbook has been a hit in my household. Each recipe has instructions for both slow cooker and Instant Pot, so you can decide which appliance you'll use to prepare a recipe based on your schedule for a particular day. And if you're an Instant Pot novice (as I am) you'll appreciate the step-by-step, button-by-button directions. Nothing is left to your imagination or to chance, but the recipes are also pretty forgiving. I got the wrong kind of chicken for one recipe I tried, and it all worked out in the end. Unfortunately, there are not photos of every finished recipe, and I found that I usually had to turn the page to get from the ingredients list to the Instant Pot instructions.
Publisher Rodale Press generously shared the instructions and photo for a simple and economical meatless recipe: vegetarian tortilla soup. This soup can be partially prepared now and frozen for later, or you can cook and serve it the same day. It's a good dinner or hearty lunch.
Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
Makes 6-8 servings
4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth, homemade or store-bought
1 (15-ounce) can vegetarian refried beans
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
1 (15-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, with their juices
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles, with their juices
1 cup mild or medium salsa
2 tablespoons taco seasoning, homemade or store-bought
1 to 2 cups cooked brown rice
Optional toppings: lime wedges, diced avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, minced jalapeños, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, crushed tortilla chips
Slow cooker instructions: Make it now:
- (Freezing instructions begin here.) In the slow cooker, combine the broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning and stir to combine, breaking up the refried beans as much as possible.
- Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours.
- Stir the cooked rice into the soup. Serve warm, with your favorite toppings. (The soup will thicken as it sits.)
Freeze for later: In a large bowl, stir together all the ingredients except the rice and optional toppings, breaking up the refried beans as much as possible. Carefully ladle the uncooked soup into one or two gallon-size freezer bags or containers. Seal and freeze. Place the cooked rice in a separate small freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze alongside the soup. Prepare from frozen: Note: Have your favorite toppings on hand to complete this meal. Thaw. Transfer the soup to the slow cooker and follow steps 2 and 3.
Instant Pot instructions: Make it now:
1 In the 6-quart Instant Pot, combine the broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning and stir to combine, breaking up the refried beans as much as possible. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
2 Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes, then quick release the pressure.
3 Stir in the cooked rice. Serve warm, with your favorite toppings. (The soup will thicken as it sits.)
Freeze for later: Follow step 1. Carefully ladle the soup into one or two gallon-size freezer bags or round containers. Seal and freeze (if using a freezer bag, set it in a bowl or round container with a diameter similar to the Instant Pot so it will fit in the pot when frozen). Place the cooked rice in a separate small freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze alongside the soup. Prepare from frozen: Note: Have your favorite toppings on hand to complete this meal. At least partially thaw the rice. Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté.” Transfer the frozen soup to the pot and cook for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel.” Follow steps 2 and 3, but cook for 12 to 17 minutes.
Copyright 2020 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS Recipe and photo from the book From Freezer to Cooker are reprinted here with the kind permission of the publisher. Copyright © 2020 by Polly Conner and Rachel Tiemeyer. Published by Rodale Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
About the Author
Barb Szyszkiewicz, editor at CatholicMom.com, is a wife, mom of 3 young adults, and a Secular Franciscan. Barb enjoys writing, cooking, and reading, and is a music minister at her parish. Find her blog at FranciscanMom and her family’s favorite recipes with nutrition information at Cook and Count. Barb is the author of The Handy Little Guide to Prayer and The Handy Little Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, available from Our Sunday Visitor.