I bought a Mirro 22 qt pressure cooker with a canning system. After researching a few different canners/cookers online, I decided to go with this one for its affordability and versatility. It comes with two canning racks, so if you are using pint jars or smaller, you can stack two layers of jars. It also can be used as a cooker to cook enough food for my whole family (for those of you who don't know, I have a pretty big family when all of my brothers and sisters and their kids and significant others get together.) It ran $89.99, and had reviews just as good as the more expensive cookers.
First I followed the recipe for the tomato soup I made earlier for my family, leaving out the chicken stock, heavy cream, and corn starch. I will add these items when I cook the soup later, similar to how I would with commercially canned tomato soup. I didn't have much of a reason for doing this, other than it seemed to be the easiest.
Then, using a wide mouthed canning funnel, I filled quart sized canning jars to about a quarter inch below the lid threading (where the ring screws on.) Since doing this, I have found that there are actually specific measurements for each item that you can, and there is a tool that you can use to make sure you fill your jar to the correct height. If you fill a jar too full for pressure canning, the contents will be pushed out of the jar and you will not get a good seal. This would leave your food prone to bacteria. Also, when I canned my blueberry jam, I had said that the one tool I wished I had bought was the funnel. After that experience, I went out and bought the funnel for $1.29 at Meijer. And I am so glad that I did, it made canning the soup a lot easier!
I put the canning rack into the canner and filled it with the proper amount of water and a tablespoon of vinegar. The vinegar keeps the canner from getting mineral stains from the water. I found the proper amount of water to use in the instruction manual that came with my canner.
My canner fits five quart sized jars. I had six jars of tomato soup, so I processed the five that would fit and used the sixth for dinner that night!
I did process the jars for 45 minutes, which is the recommended processing time for tomato products in a pressure canner. The cans were nicely sealed. But although there are several safety releases for the steam, in case the regulator isn't working properly, it still makes me nervous that the canner wasn't behaving as it should. I've asked a few friends of mine who have canned with a pressure canner, and they all have told me that's not normal. So although I did not blow anything up, and my cans are sealed, I am not counting this as a "victory" yet.
Once I do figure out what was going on with the regulator, my next canning challenge will be pickled jalapeños!