December 23, 2012

Tomato, Red Pepper, & Quinoa Soup

I know, I just posted a recipe for tomato soup. This one is different though. Waaaaaaaay different. This time, I'm not roasting the tomatoes; I'm roasting some red peppers.  Oh, and it's a little spicy. You can adjust the heat to fit your taste, but trust me. It's better spicy.

To start, I char the peppers. If you want to feel empowered, you can skewer them and roast them over a bonfire (or the burners on your stove, but this only works if your stove actually has a flame). However, I prefer to go the easy route and use the broiler in my oven. Simply remove the core and seeds and then quarter the peppers. Stick them on a tray near the broiler and let them roast until they are blackened. Don't worry about burning them; you want that charred flavor. You don't want a mouthful of burnt peppers, though, so I immediately transfer them to a plastic bag and seal it. The steam from the hot peppers magically loosens the burnt skins, so, after about 15 minutes, I can scrape them off. And voila! Charred, but not overly so, red peppers! You can use these in almost anything; I like them in salsas, salads, and, well, soups like this one.

The soup can't be all red peppers, since I did promise you tomatoes and quinoa in the name and all. There are two types of tomatoes in this recipe: fresh and canned. Pick your favorite type of red tomato for the fresh one; it should fit in your hand, but there aren't many other qualifications. If it's too big, only use part of it. If it's too small, grab another one. I also add a can of crushed tomatoes because it's just the right balance of tomato chunks and tomato juice (appetizing, right?).

For those of you who don't know what quinoa is, it is the newest fad in dieting. It is similar to couscous, those little beady pasta things that taste SO good. It is extremely healthy, so I like to use it in this soup instead of low-nutrient pasta. I cook it before adding to the soup so that I know it is perfectly cooked, but, since I add it to hot soup and let it sit for a little while, I always cook it for less than I am supposed to. You want actual bits of quinoa, not mushy clumps of healthiness.

This soup is amazing in every way, including color, taste, texture, and even (gasp!) nutrition. It's the best antidote for the cold, both temperature and sickness. Plus, it makes enough for leftovers. I know what I'll be eating for the next few days and I hope you'll do the same.

2 Red Peppers, Seeded & Quartered
1 Tomato Diced
1 14.5oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Small White Onion, Diced
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 T Olive Oil
1/8 tsp Cayenne (to taste)
1/2 tsp Chili Powder (to taste)
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
2 Cups Vegetable Broth
3/4 Cup Cooked Quinoa
1/2 Cup Milk
2 tsp Hot Sauce

Broil the peppers for 10 minutes or until blackened. Immediately place in a plastic bag. After 15 minutes, scrape off the skins and slice.

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onions and garlic; cook until translucent. Add the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and red peppers. Stir in the vegetable broth, cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Blend the soup until smooth. Stir in the quinoa and simmer for 8 minutes. Stir in the milk and hot sauce.

Makes 6 Servings
Recipe Adapted from Alyssa Rimmer

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