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Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Roasted red pepper and tomato soup with quinoa and thyme

I’m not really into the whole “New year, new you” clean eating, guilt free thing. Eating clean just makes no sense, and thinking of food as ‘dirty’ just seems to me like a fast track to a really unhealthy and damaging relationship with food, and being someone who is really boring to talk to at parties.

That being said…

I am trying to think a bit more about what I eat. Like what makes me feel bloated and ill, and why however much pasta I eat I am always hungry about an hour later. So I’m trying to find ways to make quinoa more interesting, because it really is more filling and less bloating. And then I can read articles like this one about the quinoa industry’s affect in Peru, to remind myself that we can’t win, and everything is terrible.
I’m also making an effort to stop throwing so much stuff away, like disposable coffee cups and food. I bought some little plastic tubs so that I could freeze soup and curries and things in relatively small portions. This means that when I cook at the weekends I don’t need to eat the same thing every day for a week, and the freezer is filling up with tasty homemade things that I can surprise myself with when I don’t feel like cooking.

This soup was thick and warming and absolutely delicious, totally worth the effort of the additional roasting stage. It is also really filling. I am so pleased that I have little frozen portions of it for the cold grim days coming up in the next few weeks.

Serves about 6


5 red peppers
6 medium sized tomatoes
3 cloves garlic (skin on)
1 large onion, diced
5 ish sprigs of thyme
150g quinoa
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt/ course salt
About 20g butter (or just use a little bit more oil – butter is great though)
1 flat tbsp/1 cube vegetable or chicken stock powder
Ideally sherry vinegar, if you don’t have use white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tbsp crème fraîche (or vegan equivalent)
Freshly ground black pepper

Serve with croutons, toasted almond slivers or toasted pumpkin seeds


Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.

Cut the peppers and tomatoes in half, and arrange the peppers skin down, tomatoes skin up on a roasting tray. Arrange about half of the thyme sprigs among the veggies. Hide the cloves of garlic under the pepper shells to stop them burning. Sprinkle a bit of salt on the tomatoes. Roast for 30-40 minutes.

After the veggies are roasted, pinch their skins off as soon as they are cool enough to handle, and peel the garlic cloves. Roughly tear or shop the peppers into strips. Discard the thyme twigs.

During the veggie roasting/cooling stage, and heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan on a low heat and sauté the onions for 5 – 10 minutes until softened and translucent. Put the kettle on while the onions are cooking so that hot water is ready for the next bit.

Add the quinoa to the pan and pour in enough hot water to cover, plus a bit more so the liquid rises about 3 cm above the quinoa and onions. Be a little hesitant with the water, its easier to add more water later rather than dealing with too much liquid. Add a generous pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Put the lid on and simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add the garlic, tomato, pepper, and any remaining roasting pan juices, more water if it needs it, and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Blob the crème fraîche into the soup and blitz with a hand-blender until it is silky and thick. Then add the leaves from the remaining thyme sprigs, about 1 tsp of vinegar and a grind of black pepper. Taste, and add more seasoning if it needs it.


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