It’s winter, and in the Midwest, this naturally means bitter cold one week, 60-70 degree sunny days the following week, and then the return of cold. Welcome to the unpredictable insanity that is winter. Fortunately, there is one thing we can count on, and that is hearty, warming, comforting soup. This Creamy Butternut Squash + Apple Soup is all those things. We were thrilled to have the reprieve, and it makes us anticipate spring even more. But I can’t quite escape the thought that winter has yet to rear its ugly head. Like a surprise is lurking around the corner. Mother Nature has a way of doing that, she is a crazy lady. You know what won’t throw an unpleasant wrench in your plans? The Instant Pot. If you haven’t already caved and purchased one, I am about to convince you. Not only is this handy multi-functional device a fantastic kitchen sidekick, but it has so many uses. It truly replaces the need for multiple appliances. Which if you are anything like me, you are more than happy to pare down your appliance commitments and save precious cabinet/counter space. You can say goodbye to your slow cooker and/or crock pot (don’t panic, it will be okay), your rice cooker, and even a large stock pot. Next up? The features. This popular model and the one we use at home includes 7 standard settings:
- Pressure Cooker
- Slow Cooker
- Rice Cooker
And each of these settings can be used for multiple items. For example, the slow cooker functions work exactly like, you guessed it, a traditional slow cooker. The rice cooker can also be used to make oats and other grains (if you eat these of course), saute is great for browning meat or vegetables, and yogurt can be used to make Crème brûlée (we have yet to try this but you can bet it is on the list).
The best feature of the Instant Pot is quite obviously the Pressure Cooker function. Now, I had never used a pressure cooker in my life until purchasing this appliance. I was quite intimidated, however, I can assure you that using the Pot couldn’t be easier. The settings are simple and straightforward, and the instruction manual walks you through the entire process. The 10 built-in safety features ensure you will not implode your pot or start a fire. In other words, it is dummy proof. Because let’s be honest, I would have caused major damage if this thing wasn’t safe. I can be a bit of a clutz sometimes. And Garett may turn into a frantic cook on occasion. And when we’re both in the kitchen at the same time, rushing to get a dish made? Watch out. Glasses, bowls, containers, you name it, are all at risk of sudden death. That all being said, let’s get to the fun part. What can you cook in the Instant Pot? Truth be told, we have yet to use some of the features, since we have been hooked on mastering the main ones. We will follow-up in a later post with details about other creations we concocted. For now, we will focus on the most popular and versatile features.
Instant Pot Favorite Functions
Use the pressure cooker function to make items such as:
- Soup (like this Butternut Squash and Apple Soup)
- Bone broth
- Beef or pork roast
- Whole chicken
Use the saute function for simple one pot preparations:
- Saute onions and aromatics (like you will in this soup recipe)
- Cook down vegetables
- Brown a roast before pressure or slow cooking
Use the rick cooker function to make the perfect rice, no seriously. We had a rice cooker previously and loved it for homemade sushi, as a base for a stir-fry, or as a side. But now, the Instant Pot takes the cake. Perfectly cooked rice every time, without fail. And with no effort. There you have it friends, an overview of our new favorite kitchen tool.
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- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-2 inch chunks
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch chunks
- 1 tart-sweet Apple (Pinky Lady or similar), cored and cut into 1-2 inch chunks
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon dried ginger
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- 2 cups vegetable stock or chicken bone broth
- ½ can full-fat coconut milk
- Toasted pumpkin seeds, coconut cream and smoked paprika for topping (optional)
- Set the Instant Pot to sauté and add coconut oil. Once the screen reads "hot" and oil is melted, add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until onion begins to soften, 3-5 minutes.
- Add squash and potato, and stir to combine. Cook another couple of minutes until squash begins to soften, stirring occasionally.
- Press the cancel button on the screen, then add all other ingredients, with the exception of coconut milk. Stir to combine, then tighten the lid on the pot. Ensure vent valve is set to "sealing."
- Press the "Manual" button, and set the timer to 10 minutes on high pressure. Once completed cooking and the pot beeps, let pressure release naturally. If you're in a hurry you can release manually, but be careful. Remove lid once pressure has dissipated.
- Using an immersion blender, purée soup directly in the pot. Alternatively, transfer contents to a food processor or high powdered blender. Blend until smooth, then add coconut milk and additional seasonings to taste. Blend again to combine.
- Top with toasted pumpkin seeds, coconut cream, and a dash of smoked paprika if desired.
**If you like a savory element to your soup (like we do) add a pinch of cayenne and smoked paprika before cooking.
***To make this soup in a traditional slow cooker, saute the aromatics on the stove top, transfer all ingredients to your cooker, and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Then blend, add in coconut milk, and cook another 30 minutes until flavors combine.
Items Used in this Recipe:
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