Sometimes you just need comfort food, like this creamy Instant Pot red beans and rice soup. Sometimes those times can stretch into weeks… and months.
Our 2018 started with a bang, literally. On January 3, our daughter E was driving D’s car when a man in a truck pulled out and hit her, knocking her and D’s small Honda Civic off the road. Fortunately, E was fine–shaken but physically unhurt. The same couldn’t be said for D’s car, which was totaled. Way to start the new year!
And if anything, the year has gotten worse, not better. My father has been hospitalized for serious problems twice, so I’ve been out of town to visit him and my mother more than usual. And can I just say that the weather has been especially sucky this year–extreme cold, even snow, alternating with rains. I’ve been taking Foxley to dog training classes, which constantly have to be rescheduled due to bad weather or my being out of town.
All this is to say that I’m sorry I haven’t posted a new recipe since before New Year’s, and things have been chaotic and troubling, but not tragic. Since my breast cancer diagnosis four years ago, long-time readers often worry about me when I don’t post, so I want you to know that I’m physically fine. Cancer is far in the rear view mirror of my lovely new car (that I managed to claim for myself after D’s car’s demise–so at least one thing good has come out of this blasted new year!)
So comfort food has been high on the menu this year, and nothing says comfort to Louisianians (even those living in Mississippi) more than red beans and rice. D and I have eaten a lot of vegan red beans and rice lately, though when we’re pressed for time, they’re sometimes made from canned beans or–gasp–directly from a can.
In Louisiana, we don’t mix the red beans and rice together. The beans are served with a scoop of rice on top or underneath, but we don’t combine the two before serving. I always gasp when I see a recipe purporting to be authentic that looks more like a rice pilaf than red beans and rice. That’s just not how it’s done.
Except that’s what I just did in this soup.
I thought it would be fun to just shake things up a bit and make our favorite comfort meal into a soup, similar to my Refried Bean Soup (though, sorry, not as Ridiculously Easy.) Like that soup, this one is thickened by the beans so that it’s creamy and filling. All you need is a salad or side vegetable to make it a meal.
I used the Instant Pot to speed things up a bit and to make it easier to just start the pot and go on to other things.
I know you’ll have some questions about the recipe:
Why don’t you put all the vegetables and seasonings in the Instant Pot at one time?
As much as I like pressure cooking, it does have a disadvantage: The high heat decreases the flavor of herbs, spices, and seasonings like onion and garlic. So I like to add flavor in two “layers,” at the beginning so that it is absorbed into the beans and again near the end so that it “pops.”
Why did you pre-soak the beans? Doesn’t the Instant Pot make pre-soaking unnecessary?
Pre-soaking the beans (I did the quick-soak mentioned in the recipe) allows the beans and rice to cook in the same amount of time. Otherwise, the rice will be cooked long before the beans are tender.
Do the Camellia beans take less time to cook than other kidney beans?
Possibly. They do seem a bit smaller than some other kidney beans, which is why I mention what to do if the beans aren’t done after pressure cooking. If you’re using large kidney beans, I suggest adding 5 minutes to the pressure cooking time, just to be safe. So many factors can affect bean cooking (age of beans, altitude, exact type of beans) that it’s hard to give a cooking time that works for everyone. But I can say that using Camellia red beans, I was able to get them soft in 25 minutes of pressure cooking with 30 minutes of natural pressure release.
Won’t salt and tomatoes keep the beans from softening?
Tomatoes, yes. Salt, no. Studies have shown that salting the beans does not adversely affect cooking time and may actually result in more flavorful beans. The acidity of tomatoes, on the other hand, can delay softening of the beans, which is why I add them only after the beans are done.
What if I don’t have an Instant Pot? Can I cook this recipe in a regular pressure cooker or on the stove?
You should be able to cook this soup in any pressure cooker with no change to the method or ingredients. Cooking it on the stove is a little trickier: You’ll need to increase the time and the amount of water. I suggest bringing the beans and rice to a boil and then simmering it, covered, for about an hour, checking often to add water if it starts to boil dry. Don’t add the tomatoes until the beans are completely soft.
What’s that sliced sausage in the photos?
I made an Andouille-style seitan sausage to go along with this, and though my husband loved it, I felt the recipe is not quite good enough to post. Instead, I suggest using either my Italian Fauxsages with a little smoked paprika added or my Homemade Veggie Dogs.
Where can I get more vegan Instant Pot recipes?
Well, right here, of course! I’ve been making Instant Pot-friendly recipes for over 12 years and have more than 50 of them in my Recipe Index. 🙂
Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice Soup
Cooking the beans and rice at the same time results in a rich, creamy main course soup with all the flavors of traditional New Orleans red beans and rice, vegan style!
- 1 pound dried red beans (use a smaller variety like Camellia, if you can)
- 1 large onion quartered
- 4 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 green bell pepper quartered
- 3 ribs celery cut in thirds
- 7 cups water
- 3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Seasoning Mix (see below)
- 10 ounces tomatoes with chilies (medium or hot)
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked salt (to taste)
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (more or less, to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Check the beans carefully for rocks and other debris and wash them well. Either soak them overnight with enough water to cover them by two inches; or do a quick-soak: put them in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker with at least 2 inches of water covering them, seal the cooker, and set it on high pressure for 1 minute. Allow the pressure to come down naturally; don’t open the pot for at least 30 minutes.
- Drain the beans well. Rinse out the Instant Pot if you used it for the quick-soak.
- Place the onions and garlic in a food processor and pulse to chop very fine. Transfer to the Instant Pot and begin sautéing on medium heat. Use the processor to chop the bell pepper and celery and add them to the pot. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Remove about half of the vegetables and set aside.
- Add the red beans, water, rice, and salt to the pot. Add about half of the seasoning mix. Seal the cooker, and set on high pressure for 25 minutes. When the cooking time is complete, allow the pressure to come down naturally for about 30 minutes. If pressure remains after 30 minutes, quick-release the pressure.
- Check the beans. They should be done or just a little undercooked. If they are still hard, close the pot and bring back to high pressure for 5-10 minutes and quick-release.
Add the reserved vegetables and seasoning mix to the pot along with the tomatoes. If the soup seems too thick, add extra water. Use the sauté setting on low to cook the soup for about 20 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom often. Just before serving, add the smoked salt and additional salt to taste.
Serve sprinkled with sliced green onions and hot sauce as needed. If you like, slice up a little vegan sausage such as Italian Fauxsages to serve on the on the side.
This makes about 8 large servings of 1 3/4 cup each. Nutritional info does not include optional vegan sausages. On the new Weight Watchers Freestyle program, each serving counts for 2 smart points (from the rice.)
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Well, that’s a lot of chatter about such a basic, home-style soup. I hope you’ll enjoy it! Be sure to let me know your results and adaptations in the comments.
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