Recipes: Appetizers and Soups

In this section on Appetizers and Soups, you can find the following recipes:



Amaranth, Quinoa, and Corn Chowder

Serves 6

Ingredients indigenous to the New World, like amaranth, quinoa, and corn, have a natural affinity. In this soup, the amaranth and quinoa add substance and subtle flavor variations to the more familiar taste of sweet corn.


3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups finely chopped leeks (white and light green parts)
1 cup finely diced celery (remove “strings” by peeling celery before dicing)
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup amaranth
1/2 cup quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups fresh or defrosted, frozen corn kernels
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons minced parsley

Photo by David Prince
Copyright © 2006 Lorna Sass


In a large, heavy pot, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in the leeks, celery, red bell pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the amaranth and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the quinoa and thyme. Return to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and cook at a gentle boil, partially covered, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, puree 3 cups of the corn kernels with 1 cup of water. When the quinoa has cooked for 10 minutes, stir the corn puree and remaining whole corn kernels into the soup. Add salt to taste. Reduce the heat and simmer until the quinoa and amaranth are tender, 3 to 5 more minutes. When the quinoa is done, there will be no starchy white dot in the center of each grain, and some of the germs’ “tails” may unfurl and float freely. On close inspection, the amaranth will look like tiny opaque bubbles floating on the surface.

Stir in the milk and remaining tablespoon of butter. Divide into portions and garnish each with a little parsley.

Note: The soup thickens on standing; thin as needed with additional milk and add salt to taste.


For dots of color, use 2 tablespoons of red quinoa and a scant 1/2 cup ivory quinoa. Add the red quinoa when you add the amaranth.
Use half-and-half or heavy cream instead of milk.
Use dried tarragon instead of thyme.

Shrimp, Corn, and Quinoa Soup: Instead of water, use 4 cups of fish or clam broth. Use oregano instead of the thyme. Once quinoa is tender, add 1/2 pound peeled, small shrimp. Cook until the shrimp turn pink, about 1 minute. Omit the milk.

Southern Split Pea Soup with Ham

Serves 6

Making split pea soup in the pressure cooker is a special treat: the peas dissolve into a comforting puree, saving you the nuisance of using a blender. The soup thickens and develops a surface “skin” after standing. Stir well and thin with water or chicken broth, as needed.

When shopping for split peas, look for ones with bright color. Faded peas mean faded flavor.

10 minutes high pressure plus natural pressure release


1 tablespoon butter or oil (needed to control foaming)
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
2 large ribs celery, diced
8 cups water
1 pound (2 1/2 cups) green split peas, picked over and rinsed
1 pound smoked ham steak or pork butt, cut into -inch chunks
2 large bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)


Heat butter in a 6-quart or larger cooker. Stir in the onions, celery, water, split peas, ham, bay leaves, and salt.

Lock the lid in place. Over high heat bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough o maintain high pressure and cook 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Allow the pressure to come down naturally. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape.

Remove the bay leaves. Add the thyme (if using) and simmer until its flavor pervades the soup. Stir well, taking care to blend in the peas that have sunk to the bottom. Add additional salt to taste, as much as 1 teaspoon, if needed.

Copyright © 2006 Lorna Sass

White Bean Gazpacho

Serves 6

This is a wonderful version of the traditional gazpacho made by cooking white beans with garlic, onions, and sweet paprika, and then pureeing the mixture. The resultant creamy, salmon-colored bisque sets the stage for chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, and green pepper.A splash of vinegar is added at the end, giving the soup a refreshing lift, much appreciated on a hot summer’s day .

1 1/2 cups dried navy (pea) beans, picked over and rinsed, soaked overnight in ample water to cover or speed-soaked (page 185)
4 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional, except for owners of jiggle-top cookers)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup coarsely chopped onions
2 large bay leaves
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
Generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Salt to taste
1 cup seeded and finely chopped fresh plum tomatoes
1/2 cup diced green bell peppers
1 cup peeled, seeded, and diced cucumber (Kirby’s are nice)
1/4 to 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion or scallion greens
1 tablespoon full-flavored olive oil
1 to 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (sherry wine vinegar is especially good)


Drain and rinse the beans. Place them in the cooker with water, oil (if needed), garlic, onions, bay leaves, paprika, and red pepper flakes.

Lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Lower the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 8 minutes. Allow the pressure to come down naturally or use a quick-release method. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow any excess steam to escape. The beans should be quite soft. If they are not, return to high pressure for a few more minutes or replace (but do not lock) the lid and simmer until beans are done.

Remove the bay leaves and puree the soup in two to three batches in a blender (preferred) or food processor. Add salt. Transfer to large storage container, cover, and chill. Just before serving stir in tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper, onion, olive oil, and vinegar to taste. (The soup should have a slight piquant edge.)

Tips & Techniques

There are some interesting alternatives for finishing off the soup. Instead of stirring in the vegetable garnishes, you can serve them in small bowls, allowing each diner to choose among them. (If you do this, it would be a good idea to double the amounts, as some people will take a bit more than I’ve allotted here.)

Another possibility is to combine all of the chopped vegetables and set a mound of the mixture in the center of each bowl of soup.

After chilling, the soup might have to be thinned slightly with vegetable stock (preferred) or water.

From Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure. Copyright © 2006 Lorna Sass

Orange Squash Soup

Serves 4 to 6

The lively color and tangy orange taste give this soup double appeal. You’d never guess that this recipe is virtually fat-free, since the rolled oats provide such a pleasing creaminess and sheen.Pressure cooker: 5 minutes high pressure
Standard stovetop: about 25 minutes

2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, kabocha, or delicate squash, scrubbed, seeded, and cut into 1/2 –inch chunks (peeling not necessary, particularly if organic)
1 small onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cups water
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (see cook’s notes)
1/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal (rolled oats)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon finely minced or grated orange peel (colored part only, preferably organic)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Toasted pumpkin seeds


Place all ingredients except the maple syrup in the cooker.

Lock the lid into place. Over high heat bring to high pressure. Lower the heat just enough to maintain the pressure at high and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce pressure with a quick-release method. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow any excess steam to escape.

Puree the soup in a blender (for a smoother texture), food mill, or food processor. Add maple syrup to taste.

Return the soup to the pot and rewarm. Thin slightly with water or orange juice, if necessary. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Standard Stovetop Method: In a large soup pot, proceed as directed in step 1. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the squash is very soft, about 25 minutes. Follow step 3.

Copyright © 2006 Lorna Sass

Hiziki Tapenade

Makes about 1 cup

Tapenade is a heady provencal blend of olives, capers, and anchovies. In this version. I’ve used the midly briny, jet-black sea vegetable called hiziki instead of anchovies. The result is a bold and rustic dip for raw vegetables or chips or a memorable spread for bread or wafer-thin rice crackers.

It’s wise to purchase the hiziki in a health-food store, where the quality is likely to be better than you’ll find in an Asian market. During processing, hiziki’s large leaves are shredded and dried in such a tangle that it’s impossible to give you a dry cup measurement. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, just “guesstimate” for now. Then please go out and buy one.


1 ounce Hiziki (also spelled Hijiki)
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1/2 cup pitted, oil-cured black olives (save time by buying them already pitted)
3 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt (optional)
Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish


Place the hiziki in a large bowl and pour enough boiling water on top to cover it by 2 inches. Let sit until tender and pliable, 10 to 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Drain thoroughly.

With the motor of the food processor running, pop the garlic into the feed tube and chop. Add the hiziki, olives, capers, and oil. Process to create a coarse paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add enough lemon juice and salt, if needed, to give the tapenade an assertive flavor. (The amount you’ll need will develop upon the saltiness and flavor of the olives and capers: I’ve added as much as 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoon of lemon juice.)

If serving as a dip, then the mixture slightly with olive oil, if necessary. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with thyme.

Other Ideas

For a pleasing appetizer, set small mounds of tapenade in the center of plates and surround them with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Fennel (page 80). Serve with sliced, toasted baguette.

Use a tablespoon or two of tapenade as a flavor booster in soups and stews.

Thin the tapenade with olive oil and/or a tablespoon or two of pasta cooking-water, and toss with hot pasta. Add chopped fresh thyme parsley or basil, if you wish.

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