Instant Pot (or Pressure Cooker) Beef & Wheat Berry Soup
Hearty, homey, healthy and satisfying, this quick soup is delicious and perfect for lunch or dinner. Wheat berries are similar to barley in taste and texture, offering a pleasant chew alongside the falling-apart-tender beef.
I am going to be honest and tell you I’ve been a bit of a nervous wreck leading up to this move. We are leaving tomorrow. It’s really not far from the city, but it’s far enough that I’ll have to find new places to grocery shop, order takeout, etc. I’m very preoccupied with not knowing where I’ll find food, ha! I did a few things to ease the transition (and anxiety) for myself.
First, I pretended we were going camping and packed a box of basic provisions along with minimal cooking/serving equipment so that we wouldn’t be starving or scrambling through piles of boxes to feed hangry preschoolers. Just things like breakfast cereal, boxed mac and cheese, fruit, four bowls, four plates, four forks and spoons, paper towel, a pan – as if we were going to be living in a tent for a weekend.
Then, I used a meal kit service to order meals for the first week – one that delivers the ingredients in pre-portioned amounts along with the recipe. I’ve tried a couple of boxes in the past and have really enjoyed the fun. I think that’ll really help alleviate the stress.
And finally, I pre-ordered groceries using a grocery delivery service so I could restock the daily basics for other meals and snacks (bread, milk, yogurt, fruit) without having to leave home. It’s comforting to know I can take my time to get to know the area, unpack with some semblance of grace, and settle into new routines with childcare, etc. before I have to return to the usual run-around.
It’s like present Jenn is taking care of future Jenn. I like that.
I also packed a suitcase of clothes/personal items for myself and the kids as if we were going on a trip, so that we can access our necessities easily when we get to the new house, amidst the chaos of movers and boxes. And packed a separate suitcase of work basics, so that I don’t lose track of chargers, notebooks, calendars, agendas, tripods, flashes, etc. These things will be with me in the car, not the moving truck, for peace of mind. Similarly, I’m getting each of the kids to pack a small bag with their own special things (toys, stuffed animals, craft supplies) so that they have access to the comfort of familiarity right away in the new home, too.
Any other moving tricks I should know about?
I made several beef roasts recently and one of them was too big for us to finish, so I stashed the leftovers in the freezer. In doing my pre-move kitchen clear out, I discovered it and made a delicious soup with other pantry staples. I used wheat berries, which I’m loving right now. Its texture is akin to barley, which I also love, but maybe just a tiny bit sturdier. It’s chewy and hearty and delicious.
I made the soup in my pressure cooker – which I use at least once a week. I love that the Instant Pot has caught on like wildfire because behind the new name, it is just pressure cooker. So now I can share more recipes that I make in my pressure cooker (the Breville Fast Slow Pro) because so many of y’all have one, too. If you don’t own this appliance yet, you should. It makes weeknight meals a snap, and takes the pain out of cooking lots of healthy things like whole grains, dried beans, root vegetables (potatoes cook in like 5 min), etc.
The beef soup has a simple base of sauteed onions and caramelized tomato paste. Taking the time to cook out the tomato paste adds delicious rich toasty flavour and umami, and takes away that unpleasant, tinny-acidic taste it can impart. It’s a step I never skip.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, you can make the soup in your slow cooker following the same steps and cooking on low for 8 hours, or high for 6, or you can cook it stovetop by simmering on low heat for about 2 1/2 hours.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 6-oz can tomato paste
- 1 litre/quart no sodium beef or chicken broth
- 1 lb stewing beef or leftover roast, cut in 1/2" cubes
- 1/2 cup wheat berries or barley/brown rice
- 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 2 cups finely chopped greens such a frozen chopped spinach, or fresh kale
- Heat the oil in your pressure cooker or instant pot on the sear/brown/saute setting (depending on your model) or over medium-high heat if stovetop. Add onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it it smells caramelized and looks a shade or two darker, about 3 minutes. Add broth, beef, wheat berries and salt. Bring pressure cooker to high pressure and cook for 30 minutes. Quick release the pressure, then stir in the chopped greens.