Cooking Under Pressure

The newly designed pressure cooker is making a comeback. And with delicious recipes that take only minutes, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be.

By Lorna Sass

Photography by Mitch Mandel

Lima Bean, Barley, and Vegetable Soup--a lusty and rustic<br />
meal-in-a-bowl--is ready in only about 30 minutes. But the thick and<br />
hearty soup will fill your home with a cooking-all-day aroma.
Pressure Points
Before you hit the stove running, sit down for a minute and check the owner's manual that comes with your cooker. It's very important to learn how to lock and unlock the lid, to recognize when high pressure is reached, and to tell the difference between the natural release and quick release of pressure. 
Don't be tempted to stint on the initial 2 tablespoons of oil; it controls the foaming of the beans and barley as they cook under pressure.
Looking for a Cooker?
We tested various cookers in the Rodale kitchens and found that the Swiss-made, stovetop Kuhn Rikon Ecomatic offered the best quality-to-price ratio. It retails for about $100 and is available in some cookware shops and from various online sources (see for more information). Although many people are drawn to electric cookers because they're programmable, be aware that they cook more slowly and they're more difficult to clean. And they are not as long-lasting as stovetop models, since eventually their motors burn out.
Check out this recipe for Lima Bean, Barley, and Vegetable Soup.