Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Roasty toasty soup

Surely, sweltering summer said sayonara and autumn arrived abruptly...
(Annie adores alliteration!)

...which is why I'm bringing back soup! That, and also because once again, I was too lazy to go grocery shopping. Yup, another weeknight, another dinner born from ingredients on hand and a little experimentation. I'm psyched to say that this is now going to be one of my go-to soup recipes! You can use regular peppers and tomatoes in this, but the fire-roasted variety lend a smoky, slow-building heat that's incredibly warming - and the addition of brown rice and lentils makes it a healthful and filling meal in a bowl.

Fire-Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup
(makes about 4 servings)

1 T olive oil
1/2 c chopped onions (about 1/2 medium onion)
2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground coriander
1 t chili powder
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1 jar fire-roasted bell peppers, drained and chopped
1 14.5 oz can fire-roasted or 'chili-ready' chopped tomatoes with juice
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 c to 1/2 c chicken/vegetable stock or water
1/4 c dried lentils, picked over and rinsed (I used French green lentils)
1/4 c short-grain brown rice (I used a boil-in-bag)

(Note: Cook the lentils and rice together in a separate pot while the soup is going, and undercook them, as they'll finish in the soup - refer to your package directions and go about with about 5 minutes less cooking time. Also, 1/4 c of each may not sound like a lot, but trust me - your soup will be packed!)

In a 2-qt saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions, sweating for about 1 minute. Add the cumin, coriander, chili powder and black pepper to the onions, and cook for another 5 minutes, until the onions have softened and the spices have become fragrant and toasted. Add in the chopped roasted peppers and stir to coat in the onion/spice mixture, cooking for about 1 minute. Add in the can of tomatoes along with the juice and the salt, stir everything to combine, and turn up the heat to bring the mixture up to a simmer for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, and carefully transfer the mixture to a food processor (or use a blender/immersion blender); first process on low for about 30 seconds to get things going, then scrape down the sides and continue to puree until the soup is almost entirely smooth. In between your pulses, add the chicken/veg stock or broth, using your judgement about how much you need. If you had a really juicy can of tomatoes, you may need less, and if your mixture is really thick, you may need more. I used about 1/2 c total of additional liquid.

When the soup is the desired consistency, transfer it back to the original saucepan and bring up to a simmer. Add in the slightly undercooked lentils and rice, and allow everything to simmer together for another 5 minutes. Serve with crackers or crusty bread!