While cooking outside over the fire is a favorite camping pastime, often it’s simply not practical. But RVs typically have very little kitchen space, so cooking a healthy, delicious dinner inside can be difficult. This is why the Instant Pot pressure cooker is an RVer’s best friend when it comes to cooking meals like this hearty beef and vegetable soup.
Start talking to experienced RVers or full-timers and it’s very likely that their love of the Instant Pot will come up at some point. This versatile kitchen appliance is the perfect example of a multifunctioning tool. It can cook everything from rice, hard-boiled eggs, soups, meats and even bread and cakes! And when RV storage space is limited, everything needs to have multiple functions.
So even though it’s a larger kitchen appliance, it’s no wonder why RVers love using it. While some people may be nervous about using a pressure cooker, the Instant Pot has all sorts of safety features that those older pressure cookers are lacking. It also has the bonus of being easy to clean since the food is cooked in one pot. And though you’ll most likely be washing it by hand on your trip, much of the appliance is also dishwasher safe.
Tips for Using an Instant Pot in an RV
- Use plenty of liquid when cooking. There needs to be enough liquid in the pot to allow it to properly come to pressure and cook the food. Many recipes will call for at least 1 cup of liquid. The recipe below is a soup and includes plenty of liquid but keep this in mind for any other recipes you want to make in an Instant Pot.
- Don’t use too much liquid. On the other hand, don’t overfill the Instant Pot. There’s a fill line on the inner pot to show the maximum volume of food or liquid that you can safely put inside. Make sure to always stay below that line. Some food will expand while cooking, so follow the Instant Pot instruction manual on how much liquid or food you can safely use for each size.
- Be careful when releasing the steam valve. When your food is done cooking, you’ll have to allow the pot to release the pressure before you can open it up. This can happen naturally over time, or you can flip the quick-release valve, which shoots hot steam into the air to depressurize the pot quickly. This steam is extremely hot and will burn you, so keep your face and hands out of the way as it releases. I like to use a wooden spoon or wear an oven mitt to open the release valve carefully.
- Don’t place the Instant Pot underneath cabinets while cooking. Because of the amount of steam released, prolonged usage can possibly cause water damage to the bottom of cabinets. So be strategic about where you place the Instant Pot while cooking. This can sometimes be tricky when you don’t have a ton of counter space, but just make sure the steam valve isn’t directly under any upper cabinets. There are also steam diverters you can buy for your Instant Pot that will redirect the steam and point it away from your cabinets. These can be very helpful to stop the steam from shooting straight up in the air.
- Check your electrical hookups. Like any electrical appliance, make sure you’re connected to enough power to use the Instant Pot safely. While it won’t use as much electricity as your air conditioning or a microwave, it can trip the power if you have too many things plugged in and turned on all at once. I prefer using my Instant Pot when we’re connected to power at a campsite and not while boondocking to make sure I have enough electricity to power the appliance.
Instant Pot Beef and Vegetable Soup
One of the best ways to use the Instant Pot is to make hearty soups and stews during the winter months when you don’t necessarily want to cook outside. This recipe uses frozen vegetables that can easily be found in the frozen section of grocery stores, along with dried herbs for flavor. The recipe was made in a 6-quart Instant Pot.
1 TBSP olive oil
Salt and pepper
1.5 pounds beef stew meat
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
32 oz beef broth
2 cups frozen vegetables (we like to use a mixed bag of frozen carrots, peas, beans, and corn)
1 large potato, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Optional – Parsley for topping
1. Set the Instant Pot to the sauté function and add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot. Season the meat with salt and pepper and brown in the Instant Pot for 3-4 minutes. It may be easier to brown the meat in 2 batches. Remove the meat from the Instant Pot and set it aside on a plate.
2. Add the diced onion to the pot and sauté for another 2-4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds until the garlic becomes fragrant.
3. Add a splash of the beef broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze and loosen any bits that are stuck so it won’t burn.
4. Add the meat back into the pot along with the spices. Add the rest of the broth and other ingredients to the Instant Pot and stir to combine. Put on the lid, making sure it’s locked and the release vent is set to sealed. Switch the mode to manual high pressure and set the timer for 15 minutes.
5. It will take about 20 minutes or so for the Instant Pot to come to pressure with all the ingredients inside. Once it comes to pressure, the Instant Pot will cook the stew for 15 minutes on the timer.
6. After the cooking time is finished, let the pot release pressure naturally for 25 minutes. After that time, carefully flip the quick-release valve to venting to release any remaining pressure. Be careful when releasing the steam not to get burned.
7. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with parsley if desired. Serve with bread or on its own. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.