Instant Pot Vegetarian Tomatillo, Bean, and Squash Stew

I haven’t tried this on Nora yet, but it was a big hit with everyone else (my mom and husband). As with all my Instant Pot recipes, quantities are approximate and substitutions welcome.

  • 1 cup dried white beans
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • about 3/4 lb tomatillos
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 large onion
  • several cloves of garlic
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 heaping tbsp salt
  • 1 heaping tsp cumin
  • black pepper

Soak the beans and chickpeas in boiling water in the Instant Pot for 2-24 hours (depending on schedule convenience). Drain the water and rinse the beans thoroughly. (The soaking is skippable, but I think it helps with gas.)

Microwave the squash for 5 minutes and let it cool (also skippable, but makes peeling much easier). Halve it, scoop out the seeds (save them for roasting!), and peel the squash (I used a knife to cut away the flesh). Cut the squash into rough chunks and put it into the pot with the beans.

Dice the onion. Mince the garlic. Peel and halve the tomatillos. Seed and mince the jalapeno. Add the vegetables to the pot. Add stock or water to about the level of the beans (I could have gotten away with less, since the vegetables juice out so much). Add the salt, cumin, and a generous grind of black pepper.

Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes.

When the stew is done, use a potato masher to mash the soup. The squash and tomatillos will basically dissolve, leaving you with a greenish soup and very soft beans.


Instant Pot Cheat Sheet

I was never quite sure what was the difference between all the Instant Pot buttons – “Beans/Chili,” “Meat,” “Poultry,” and “Steam.” As it turns out, they’re all basically the same but with different cooking times, with the exception of the “Steam” button, which heats at full power continuously while it’s coming to pressure. The cheat sheet below is very convenient.

  • Soup – high pressure 30 minute cook time. Press soup and the Adjust button once (more) to cook for 40 minutes. Press soup and the Adjust button twice (less) to cook for 20
  • Meat/Stew – high pressure 35 minute cook time. Adjusted to more – 45 minute cook time; adjusted to less  – 20 minute cook time.
  • Bean/Chili – high pressure 30 minute cook time. Adjusted to more – 40 minute cook time; adjusted to less – 25 minute cook time.
  • Poultry – high pressure 15 minute cook time. Adjusted to more – 30 minute cook time; adjusted to less – 5 minute cook time.
  • Rice – cooks on low pressure and is the only fully automatic program. It’s for cooking white rices and will adjust the cooking time depending on the amount of water and rice in the cooking pot. (I prefer to cook rice for a shorter time on high pressure.)
  • Multi-grain – high pressure 40 minute cook time. Adjusted to less – 20 minutes cook time. Adjusted to more – 45 minutes warm water soaking time and 60 minutes pressure cooking time.
  • Porridge – high pressure 20 minute cook time. Adjusted to more – 30 minute cook time; adjusted to less 15 – a minute cook time.
  • Steam – high pressure 10 minute cook time. Adjusted to more – 15 minute cook time; adjusted to less – 3 minute cook time. Use this function with a rack or steamer basket because it heats at full power continuously while it’s coming to pressure and you don’t want food in direct contact with the bottom of the pressure cooking pot. Once it reaches pressure, the steam button regulates pressure by cycling on and off similar to the other pressure buttons.

Instant Pot Black Bean and Barley Stew

I’m discovering that I like keeping track of my Instant Pot recipes so I know how much beans and salt to put in, and how long to cook for. But the rest is open to improvisation, and it always somehow comes out good. Instant Pot cooking seems to be very, very forgiving.

  • 1.5 cups dried black beans
  • 1.5 cups pearled barley
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (optional, for soaking)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 dried chili pepper, minced
  • 1.5 tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Soak beans and barley in boiling water with apple cider vinegar in the Instant Pot for 2-24 hours. Drain and rinse thoroughly until water runs reasonably clear. (I’m pretty sure soaking is optional, but I’m still in the habit of doing it if I have time.)

Fill the pot with water or broth to 2 inches above the beans and barley. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook on the “Beans/Chili” setting for 25 minutes.

Just before serving, pour the olive oil on top and stir it in. (Optional, but tasty.)

Instant Pot Vegetarian Lentil Stew

This recipe is a work in progress, as my husband was the one who prepared the lentils and veggies and he didn’t do any measuring. I will try measuring more precisely next time in order to have one recipe I can use as the standard.

  • 3 cups dried lentils
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalk of celery, diced
  • several cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp salt

Put the beans in the Instant pot. Pour boiling water over the beans with about two inches of water above the beans. Let soak for 2-24 hours.

Drain and thoroughly rinse the beans until the water runs clear. Add water (or bone broth, for the non-vegetarian version) up to at least an inch above the beans. Add vegetables and and spices. Hit the “Beans/Chili” button and dial the time down to 20 minutes.

Instant Pot Vegetarian White Bean Chili

This is the best white bean chili I’ve ever made. The Instant Pot really concentrates the vegetable flavors.

I also found that soaking the beans for two hours in boiling water and a piece of kombu in the Instant Pot is more than enough to reduce gas, which is the problem I’ve always had with white beans. Even when the Instant Pot is off, it’s great at keeping its contents warm, which is a perfect way to soak beans.

  • 2 cups dried white beans
  • 1 piece of kombu
  • pinch of baking soda
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 bay leaf

Put the beans in the Instant pot. Pour boiling water over the beans with about two inches of water above the beans. Add the kombu and a pinch of baking soda and cover. Let soak for 2-24 hours. In the meantime, dice the onions, carrots and celery. Wash and chop the kale.

Drain and thoroughly rinse the beans until the water runs clear. Add water up to at least an inch above the beans, more if you want the chili to be more like a white bean soup. Add the kombu, vegetables, and spices. The kale will reach the top of the pot, but it cooks down, so this isn’t an issue. Hit the “Beans/Chili” button (high pressure, 30 minutes)  and walk away until the chili is done.

Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili

This is very liberally adapted from The Real Food Daily Cookbook by Ann Gentry. The main problem is fitting all the ingredients in the pot! I actually chopped more than could fit. The version below is my best guess as to what actually did fit.

This version was spicy enough to taste like chili, but not spicy enough to scare Nora off. She loved it, probably because everything cooked up nice and soft.

  • 3 cups dried kidney beans
  • 1 piece of kombu
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 red or green bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno chile
  • 4-10 cloves garlic
  • 28 oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp dried sage
  • 2 tbsp sea salt

If you care about Weston A. Price recommendations, bring some water to a boil. And the beans, kombu, and water to the Instant Pot, and soak for 18-24 hours. I discovered that the Instant Pot keeps the boiling water hot for a good long time, which is ideal for phytase activity. To be honest, I’m not fully convinced that soaking grains and legumes really matters nutritionally, but I find the beans very digestible with this method so I’ll continue to do it when I have time.

Dice the onions, carrot, celery, and bell pepper. Seed and mince the jalapeno. Mince the garlic.

Rinse the beans thoroughly until the water runs clear. Add the remaining ingredients, including the kombu (no need to stir). Add water just past the level of the beans. Hit the “Beans/Chili” button (high pressure, 30 minutes) and walk away.

When the chili is done cooking, use a wooden spoon to break up the kombu and then serve.

Instant Pot Chicken Soup

I’m still tinkering with my Instant Pot settings, but I think there’s a wide margin of error when making chicken soup. Add chicken, water, and salt; hit the Poultry or Soup button, and as long as the chicken’s not undercooked when you take it out, it’s fine. But here’s what I’m figuring out so far:

Amount of Chicken: Half a chicken seems to be about the correct amount for my preferred broth-to-meat ratio. I cut the chicken in half, freeze the other half, and put it in with as much water as I am allowed per Instant Pot instructions (2/3 of the pot).

Timing: Letting the meat cook longer makes it easier to get it off the bone. 20 minutes seems to be an acceptable compromise between convenience and a longer cook time.

Bone Broth: The broth is much improved if I freeze the bones from one batch, and then use them again in the next. By the second cooking, the bones are soft and snap easily. It’s very easy to separate them out from the fresh bones because the former are so soft, and the latter are still attached to the chicken flesh. So I throw away the brittle bones, keep the hard ones, and the cycle continues.

Flavorings: My favorite batch is the one where I added sliced ginger to the chicken as it was cooking (about 8 slices the width of a coin, but I could have done more). My second best batch was the one where I added previously-frozen cauliflower stems. I’ve read that the Instant Pot concentrates the flavors of vegetables, so it isn’t necessary to use as much. I think this is true. Next time, I’ll try a single carrot and stalk of celery. I usually hate using vegetables to make broth and then throwing them away, but I can live with having a few turn to mush. If I had peppercorns, I’d use them in this step, but I’m out of peppercorns so I skipped it.

Vegetables: I’ve been in the habit of removing the chicken chicken carcass after it’s done, adding chopped vegetables (carrots, celery, shredded cabbage, cubed potatoes) to the broth, and letting them cook in “Soup” mode for another 10 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, I separate the chicken meat from the bones over a colander so as not to lose any of the broth. Then I freeze the bones (or throw them away if they’ve already been cooked twice), and add the chicken back to the soup. The result is tender but not overcooked vegetables, though they don’t contribute nearly as much flavor to the broth as those added at the beginning. This is labor-intensive, however, and can be skipped if there are time constraints.

In short – Instant Pot chicken soup is very easy, but I am still experimenting with different variations!

Instant Pot Lamb Bone Broth

I had good success making Instant Pot bone broth. In my freezer, I had lamb bones from a previous lamb stew that had been cooked on the stove for several hours and still had a bit of meat on them, beef marrow bones that had been roasted in the oven, and chicken bones from an Instant Pot chicken soup.

I threw it all into the Instant Pot for 120 minutes on “Manual” with a carrot, some celery, some salt, and some garlic (I was out of onions). There was also a forgotten cinnamon stick among the bones. I would have added apple cider vinegar to help draw out minerals, but I forgot.

The broth smelled quite strongly of lamb while cooking and cooling, but when I removed the bones and vegetables and refrigerated it, it gelatinized nicely with a layer of fat that was easy to skim off. I skimmed off all the fat because it smelled very gamey and seemed like it would overpower other flavors. The broth itself was much milder and tastier without the fat.

I used the gelatinized broth for a carrot peanut soup and a black bean soup with tomatoes and peanut butter. In both cases, it contributed good flavor and mouthfeel without being overpowering or recognizable as lamb. I diluted it with approximately an equal amount of water both times.

Instant Pot Black Bean Stew

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from recipe posting because Nora was sick a few weeks ago and not eating much of anything.

At the same time, she made some big developmental leaps. Language is now a big part of the feeding equation. She points at things she’s interested in, wants to eat what I’m eating (including coffee and ice cream), and cries when she doesn’t get her way. She can make a few signs such as “yogurt,” “more,” and “all done,” though not consistently. When a desirable item is within her field of view (egg or yogurt), she will often refuse everything else. So mealtimes require a lot more strategizing than they used to.

That said, she did enjoy this black bean stew, with peanut butter starring as the secret ingredient to make it smooth and creamy. All quantities are extremely approximate. This is a garbage soup; just throw in however much you want to use up and adjust the seasoning of the puree at the end. The peanut butter is somewhat disguised by the other strong flavors and colors, but you can always add more or less depending on whether you want it to be a star.

I used cooked black beans in this recipe because that’s what I had on hand, but if I were starting from scratch, I’d probably use the “Beans/Chili” function for 20 minutes.


  • 1 large onion
  • 4 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3 cups cooked black beans
  • 32 oz can of tomatoes
  • 1 bunch carrot tops
  • 2 cups bone broth (omit for vegetarian version)
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • salt, pepper, savory

Saute the onion at the bottom of the Instant Pot until they begin to brown. Add the carrots, celery, and garlic and saute until they just begin to soften.

Add the other ingredients. Add enough broth or water to approximate the desired consistency (about 1 cup the time I did it). Add salt, pepper, and spices. Cook using the “Soup” function for 12 minutes.

When the soup is done (either natural or quick release), use an immersion blender to puree. Add peanut butter and puree some more. Adjust seasoning, adding more peanut butter if desired.