It has been a while! I, Auntie Megan, have been extremely busy recently, so I am very sorry in the delay in bringing new deliciousness to you. But fret not. I have a lovely soup for you this time.
It's spring now, and even though it may not be warm where you are yet, it will be soon. And in spring, most fruits and veggies start to sprout up in gardens and on farms. After a long winter of eating cauliflower and cabbage and squash and things like that, it's time for something peppy! And zippy! Something that zings your tastebuds and refreshes you after you've been hard at work playing. But it is still a bit cold out, isn't it? So how about a nice warm bowl of peppy! zippy! zingy! soup to keep you going until the weather gets hotter? Oh yes.
And aren't these peppers beautiful? They're GORGEOUS! Yes, and together with tomatoes they make this a very red soup. It's the color of luck and happiness and life! What better way to start spring than with all of those things?
I've shown you a couple of exciting colors you can eat so far: purple cabbage and white cauliflower. But you need to eat all different colors.You need to eat a rainbow of colors! Red things like the peppers and tomatoes in this soup are high in vitamin C, which is good for building a stronger body. They also contain other chemicals that can help protect your skin from the sun (but you should still wear sunblock!).
Peppy, Zippy, Zingy Red Pepper Soup
(adapted from Million Menus from Love Food)
1 tsp olive oil
2 bell peppers, any color--I like to use two different colors for good nutritionally variety, but it doesn't matter much--chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno or other not too hot chili, seeded and chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes or whole tomatoes in puree
water to cover by 1 centimeter
black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp vinegar--sherry or white--to taste
This is quite like a hot gazpacho. I've never tried it cold, but it might be nice. In the name of science, I urge you to try it and report back. Also, please note that you can omit the olive oil and just bung everything into a pot and boil, which is easier and tastes pretty good, but my way is nicer.
Heat the olive oil in a large-ish saucepan over medium-high heat. When it's just beginning to shimmer, add the onion and peppers, stirring until softened. If they start to brown, lower the heat immediately. When these are just softening, add the garlic and the jalapeno, stirring them in. Then add the basil.
After about 2 minutes, when all is fragrant, add in the tomatoes. If you're using whole tomatoes, break them up in your hands as you add them to the pan. Beware of tomato juice squirting onto your lovely white shirt, though. Auntie Megan recommends an apron for this part.
Stir the tomatoes through and then add the water Bring everything to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer. Simmer 15-20 minutes, until it's stopped looking like a pan full of individual bits and is looking more like a single dish. Remove from the heat.
Puree the soup with an immersion blender. Or, strain it into a bowl using a mesh strainer. Pour the liquid back into the pan. Pour the solids into a food processor and blend to your desired level of smoothness, then add the puree back into the liquid and heat through.
PS The best way to do this is NOT as illustrated above. Instead, put the wooden spoon back into the pan and gently pour the puree onto the exposed part of the spoon. This will break its fall, and it won't splatter all over you and your nice clean stove. You can then use the spatula to scrap any puree sticking to the spoon down into the soup. This is a handy tip whenever you need to pour anything chunky or thick into anything liquid.
Once the soup is back on the heat, add the pepper and vinegar. Simmer with the vinegar for a minute to take the harshness out of it. Then taste and adjust seasoning. If you're really feeling zingy, add a dash of your favorite vinegar-based hot sauce (like Tabasco).
Serve! This is nice with a hot piece of buttered toast, or to keep the gazpacho-ish theme going, try sprinkling a little (A LITTLE) cheese (cheddar is nice) between two corn tortillas. Heat on a cookie sheet for a few minutes in a hot oven, until the tortillas just start to brown at the edges. Cut into wedges for dipping in the soup. Sprinkle a little cheese on top of the soup, if you like. We used feta in the photos.
This makes 2 big bowls of soup or 4 snack-size portions.
What can the kids do?
They can add ingredients (except jalapenos) to the pot. Jalapenos should probably be handled by grown-ups only, as any spicy chili will linger on the hands. Once the kids rub their eyes or pick their nose or similar, they will be very unhappy munchkins. They can definitely squish the tomatoes in their hands, but it will be messy! Fun, though. Less fun if any papercuts are present on hands. They can stir the puree back into the soup, and then they can mangia!