Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pressure Cooker Vegetable Soup with Giant White Beans, Ham, and Bay Leaves

Pressure Cooker Vegetable Bean SoupThis gorgeous vegetable soup with giant beans is the first real meal I've made in the new pressure cooker that came in the mail, although I've used it several times to cook plain beans. I loved the way using the pressure cooker kept the vegetables and ham so brightly colored, and this was loaded with flavor. I'm sharing the recipe, although I'm by no means a pressure cooker expert, so any experienced pressure cooker users are welcome to chime in with suggestions in the comments.

The giant white beans were from a small Italian market in Boston, and I seasoned them with garlic and some wonderful bay leaves from Italy (via Ilva!) I hope the giant white beans and the use of Italian bay leaves make this a good entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, now sponsored by Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once and hosted by Siri's Corner this week.

The only disappointing thing about making this was that some of the beans lost their skins after they'd been pressure-cooked and the beans fell apart a little. I did a little research through google and found that even famous cooks have had the same problem with these beans. It didn't matter of course, but I liked the looks of the whole beans better.

I cut the vegetables and ham into fairly large pieces, approximately the same size as the beans, for a chunky look to the soup. You could definitely cut them smaller if you wanted a more blended looking soup.

I pressure-cooked the beans first for ten minutes with garlic and bay leaves, added to flavor the m. Then I added the vegetables and some pieces of ham and cooked the soup for three minutes. I put pieces of ham rind in during the second cooking time to flavor the broth even more, then fished out the rind and threw it away before serving the soup.

Pressure Cooker Vegetable Soup with Giant White Beans, Ham, and Bay Leaves
(Makes about 4 servings, recipe created by Kalyn)

1 cup giant white beans, soaked for 8 hours in cold water (or use any white beans)
3 cups water
2 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves
1 onion chopped in 1 inch pieces
1 large carrot, cut in half lengthwise, then into thick half-circles
1/2 cup chopped celery, cut into pieces same size as carrots
1 cup ham cubes, about 1 inch square
ham rinds to flavor soup (or use Goya Ham Flavored Concentrate or barbecue sauce to flavor the broth)
chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Soak beans in cold water for 8 hours or overnight, drain water and throw away. (You can also cook beans without pre-soaking, but they will take a lot longer to cook.) Put beans in pressure cooker with 3 cups water, bay leaves, and garlic cloves. Lock lid on, then turn on heat and ring cooker to high pressure and cook ten minutes, then let pressure release slowly. When pressure has been released, remove and discard bay leaves and garlic cloves, but keep all bean cooking liquid.

While beans cook, chop onion, carrot, celery, and ham. Add vegetables and ham to beans and cooking liquid, along with ham rinds (or one of the substitutions above.) Lock lid and turn heat back on, then cook 3 minutes at low pressure, turn off heat, and let pressure release slowly. Remove ham rinds, and serve hot, garnished with freshly chopped parsley if desired.

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South Beach Suggestions:
This soup would be for phase two of the South Beach Diet, due to the carrots, or omit carrots for a Phase One soup.  I'd serve it with some hot South Beach Diet friendly whole wheat bread.

More Pressure Cooker Dishes You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
I write about pressure cookers and do a round-up of recipes at BlogHer.
Azorean Spiced Beef Stew (Mohla) from Hedonia
Curried Butternut Squash Soup from Cooking with Amy
Split Pea Soup with Herbs de Provence from I Am Gluten Free
Vegetable Soup from Once Upon a Thyme
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More to Chew On:


  1. Never pressure cooked a thing! If it was only a few of the beans, it would seem that would thicken the soup and be good. I'd agree you'd want most whole.
    It does look especially vibrant.

  2. That looks good enough to eat right now. ! I could use a bowl we had a little snow this morning.

  3. I just bought my first pressure cooker, too! It's still in the box, and quite frankly I don't think I'll have time to experiment with it until December. But I'm bookmarking this recipe and your BlogHer article and can't wait to start trying some of the recipes! I got a four quart one because I didn't think I'd ever use a bigger one.

  4. Tanna, that's a first if I've done something in the kitchen you haven't tried. Highly recommend it!

    Sherrie, thanks. I was actually surprised how colorful the veggies stayed, but it makes sense because they cook so quickly.

    Nicole, you will LOVE it. No more canned beans for me. I bought a couple of pressure cooker cookbooks, and the two I really like are both by Lorna Sass(but of course here I am making up my own recipes!) Mine is 3.7 quarts, and I agree, that's about the biggest size I can imagine using.

  5. Wow, your picture looks so alive! And that bowl of soup is simply to die for.

  6. Hardly a day passes that we don't use the pressure cooker anymore. We've had great success with beans as you have, and most recently a spectacular risotto. I know it's not very SoBe friendly, but maybe you could do the same with farro? I'm eager to try whole grains.

  7. I loooove my pressure cooker and am always looking for new recipes. I also love soup, so this is perfect! Thanks!

  8. I'm so intrigued by pressure cooking - I want to try it. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your adventures in pressure cooking! To cook beans quickly would be worth it just for that.

  9. oh my goodness, ur only the 3rd other person i know uses a pressure cooker here in food blog world. so glad to hear that. that's awesome! i have 7 pressure cookers! imagine how much cooking i do in them! great recipe.

  10. Kalyn you should check out the Tuscan Lamb Shanks & White Bean recipe in this month's Gourmet (pg 98) it uses unsoaked navy beans and cooks in 30 minutes! It is delish.

  11. Jesse, thanks. As I said, I was amazed how the veggies kept their color.

    Sean, farro is a great idea! Will try it for sure.

    Gaga, glad you like it.

    Italian Dish, I am really loving it. The new pressure cookers are completely safe.

    Bren, thanks for the tips.

    Amy, will look for it, sounds delish! Been meaning to try unsoaked beans and see what the time difference was.

  12. Congratulations Kalyn, your photo made it to the Serious Eats blog. And it is a great photo and the soup sounds good as well.


  13. Michael, thanks for letting me know! Going to check it out now. Loving the pressure cooker!


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