What is thermal cooking? Well it’s like a slow cooker, but it does not use electricity at all and all the magic happens inside the insulated pot. The short and sweet of it is that food is heated to boiling for a period of time 5, 10, 15 minutes and then put into an insulated structure. The interior covered pot will retain all the heat and the food will slowly continue cooking for several hours.This cooking concept is not new. While doing some research I found a newspaper article from the late 1890’s describing the same method. I also found a drawing in the book Experiment Station Work, XLI from 1907. If interested in reading the article it can be found over on the Internet Archive.
Well my cooker is not made from wood but the concept is the same. I was able to duplicate the method using a lidded pot and a cooler. Considering the cooler took up so much counter space and the hot pot warped the plastic on the inside of the cooler I finally decided to purchase a small crock pot sized thermal cooker.
It’s very simple to use and there is no worry from leaving an electric appliance plugged in all day.
Hay Box Cooking – Thermal Cooker
Instant Pot (IP) vs Slow Cooker. For me it seems to have a similar outcome but at a quicker pace. There are probably some recipes which are still best suited for a slow cooker, but soups are an instant winner for the IP. I have so many cookbooks and cooking isn’t something I do everyday. This weekend I took one of those cookbooks dedicated to Slow Cookers and Crock Pots and found the recipe below. The recipe was tweaked so that the portions are good for the IP and the time of course was shortened. On the plus side the soup turned out great! Instant soup on a cold March day!
Italian Vegetable Soup cooked in the Instant Pot.
Italian Vegetable Soup
Turn the Instant Pot on and press Sauté function key, the pot will start to heat up. Add oil, onions and garlic stir through to saute. Add the vegetables, herbs and beef stock stir mix well. Cook 10 minutes on Normal High Pressure.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
- 1 lb red potatoes, small, and cut into medium-large cubes about 10 small potatoes
- 6 stalks celery, chopped
- 4 carrots, sliced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 beef bullion cubes
- 1 tbsp basil, dried
- 1 or 2 c ham, cooked and diced I used a slice of ham that was partially frozen. This made it easier to dice.
- 16 oz can kidney beans (undrained)
- 14.5 oz diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 tbsp oregano, dried
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper, black
- 5 c water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Chop and prepare all vegetables before you get started to save some time.
Dice the ham. The ham I used was still partially frozen which made it easier to dice.
Add oil to the Instant Pot and turn on the sauté button. Once oil is hot, add in the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add in the garlic and cook for one additional minute until fragrant, stirring constantly so that garlic does not burn.
Into 1 cup of hot water add the bullion cubes, stir occasionally until dissolved.
Add the bullion broth and all other ingredients (not the water) in to the pot, and stir well.
Add in the remaining 4 cups water, make sure that the water does not go over the 2/3 full or max line in the cooking pot.
Place the lid on the Instant Pot and turn the vent valve to "sealing." Cook on manual high pressure for 10 minutes, then carefully quick release the pressure.
Once the steam has completely released and the pin has dropped on the lid, open the lid and stir. Enjoy!