Sunday, June 03, 2012

One more spicy soup before the summer heats up...

This is seasonally inappropriate no doubt, but summer hasn't really arrived yet in the North Country, so there is still time for SOUP! This one is pretty and pretty healthful with all the veggies, and interestingly, it calls for rice as a thickener instead of cream. Keep this one in mind for when you start harvesting sweet peppers from your garden in a couple of months; I'm sure it would freeze beautifully for a little warmth and comfort in the fall and winter.

Spicy Red Pepper Soup
(Source: adapted from All Recipes)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (I used two tablespoons)
6 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped (I used a whole head, just smashed and peeled)
2 quarts chicken broth
1/2 cup long grain rice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (I simmered the soup all day in the crock pot with a big thyme bundle tied with kitchen string)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used 1/8 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I used 1/8 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon salt (I used 2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (I used 1 teaspoon)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the bell peppers, carrots, onions,
celery, and garlic. Cook and stir the vegetables until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, rice, thyme, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the rice and vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat. and cool 30 minutes.
2. Blend the cooled soup until smooth using an hand-held immersion blender directly in the pot. Or use a blender, and blend the soup in batches until smooth.
Gina's Notes: To make this in the crock pot, I sauteed the veggies first on the stovetop (an extra step, but well worth it for flavor, in my opinion). Then I added everything except the rice to the crock pot on high for about two hours, then added the rice and let it go for another two hours (still on high), then mixed it all with stick blender right in the crock pot! When it was all done, it looked pretty, but it tasted kind of boring. I ended up adding a couple more teaspoons of granulated garlic (if you can imagine such a thing), a couple of teaspoons of ground celery, two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, a teaspoon of dried thyme, two teaspoons of sugar, and a heaping tablespoon of chicken soup base/bouillon. But what really made it pop was serving the soup with a generous garnish of baby/cocktail shrimp that I tossed in some bottled vinaigrette and a squeeze of lime juice. That did the trick!

P.S. I like things spicier than most folks, I think, but I cut the cayenne and red pepper flakes in half, and it was still plenty hot! So begin conservatively with the spice and ramp it up at your own peril. Also, unless you are feeding the Duggar Family and/or want to freeze some for the future, you might wish to halve the recipe, as it makes FIVE QUARTS of soup!

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