Italian Sausage and Rice Soup

If I told you that this soup takes a mere 10 minutes to simmer for the taste of a soup labored over for a day (or two), would you brand me an infomercial?  Because it’s true – every word of it.  And it doesn’t come at the hands of any crazy Ron Popeil device, although you do pretty much “set it and forget it.”  This baby is simmered to perfection in a pressure cooker, and for that great savings of time and effort and the steaming up of the household, I am eternally grateful.

Italian Sausage and Wild Rice Soup © Spice or Die

My grandmother turned me on to the joys of the pressure cooker recently, and I’m an unabashed convert.  The only time I spent around one was in my childhood home using my favorite pot to make perfect batches of rice.  Turns out the thing was the bottom half of one of my grandmother’s pressure cookers from back in the day.  No real cooking under pressure there.  Much later, I sampled a stew that my grandmother had prepared and I swore I had only seen her puttering around the kitchen for an hour, prep time included.  How could the lamb be so meltingly tender in under an hour?  Once I learned the secret, I knew  had to try things out for myself.

Once I got the hang of the thing (it’s a little noisy and it takes time to get used to the pressure valve), I fell in love with the process of converting my most laborious recipes into streamlined pressure cooker versions.  No surprise that one of my favorite dishes to prepare, soup, became one of my most loved pressure cooker experiments.  This soup was no exception – wild rice usually taking a half an hour to cook is simmered for a mere 10 minutes.  Best of all, because of the lack of evaporation, the stock retains all of the concentrated liquid without steaming up your house.

You can certainly make this soup without a pressure cooker – just plan to give the soup about 30-45 minutes of simmering time to make sure that the rice becomes tender.

Italian Sausage and Rice Soup

1 carrot, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
a couple sprigs of fresh thyme
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. of sweet italian sausage, casings removed
2 qts. of chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 tbs. of oregano
8 oz. of frozen spinach
1 c. of uncooked wild rice blend (Uncle Ben’s Original, not the quick cooking kind)
1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes
shredded mozzarella

Brown the sausage in the pressure cooker, breaking up into large chunks.  When no longer pink, add the carrots, parsnips and onion.  Stir the veggies, scraping up any browned bits of sausage on the bottom of the pan.  Add the garlic, thyme, stock, bay leaf, spinach, rice and diced tomatoes.  Lock the lid onto the pressure cooker and bring to high pressure.  Cook for 10 minutes on high pressure and then allow the pressure to drop naturally.  Remove lid and dole out portions of the soup, topping with a bit of shredded mozzarella.  Enjoy the extra 30 minutes of your life that you’ve gained back.