“Sometimes I feel like I’m such a dichotomy”, I said to Scott as we enjoyed this hearty, healthy, crazy-good soup. He looked at me somewhat puzzled.
“I mean really, think about it… One day I’m creating stuff like the Strawberry Swirled Fantasy Fudge or the Lemon and White Chocolate Pots de Crème and then, before you know it, my head is spinning with ideas for super healthy, veggie-loaded soups, sandwiches and curries. And you know how I adore coming up with fresh, vibrant salads utilizing whatever’s in season and beautiful at the market. There’s a zillion of them in our archives!”
“See what I mean? A dichotomy with a capital D!”
“I like it that way”, he said. “You keep us eating healthy most of the time. But I sure love the splurges! And I don’t really think of you as a dichotomy anyway”.
“Nope, I think of you more as a one-stop-shop”.
“You love to cook everything – literally from soup to nuts. And all things in between; cakes, jams, jellies, cookies, crackers, muffins, and on and on and on…” “Like I said, a one-stop-shop – things never get boring around The Café kitchen, that’s for sure!”
I think that means he’s going to keep me for a while, so I guess I’ll just continue to be a dichotomy or a one-stop-shop or whatever you want to call me.
Seriously, whether you enjoy being indulgent or head more towards light and lean, I think you’ll love this Southwestern Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup. It’s so rich with vibrant south-of-the-border flavor, you might not guess that it’s also super good for you. I love adding lots of healthy veggies to my soups; they make the soup wonderfully nutrient-rich, and also act as a thickening agent in these types of pureed soups, eliminating the need for starchy, calorie-laden thickeners.
The vegetables are roasted to intensify the flavor, then added to a simmering stock. After everything is nice and tender, the mixture is pureed with an immersion blender*** or regular blender. The veggies also make the soup quite creamy and smooth, but I boosted up the creaminess one more notch with with a generous dollop of healthy Greek yogurt.
So there you have it; lots of fresh veggies, chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you prefer), canned tomatoes, yummy Mexican-inspired seasonings, herbs and Greek yogurt. Nothing to feel guilty about and everything to enjoy!
The soup is delicious on it’s own, but I had some fun with topping it too. I used this wonderful Avocado Salsa – it’s simple and really let’s the avocados shine. The recipe makes more than you’ll need for the soup, but once you taste it, you’ll be so happy to have enough to scoop up with tortilla or pita chips.
Got company coming? Make soup! This one’s so easy to throw together, can be made ahead, makes a beautiful presentation and everyone seems to love southwestern-inspired cuisine. Just add a pan of warm, from-the-oven cornbread (recipe coming!) and a bowl of honey butter* and you’ll be sure to see smiles all around the table.
Espero que lo disfruten (I hope you enjoy it)!
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Southwestern Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Hearty, healthy and super flavorful, this soup is loaded with lots of great veggies and a burst of south-of-the-border flavor. The avocado salsa takes it right over the top!
- Yield: 8 generous servings
- Category: Soup
- Cuisine: Mexican
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, cut in half and each half quartered
- 1 pound carrots, roughly chopped (when I’m feeling lazy, I just use a bag of the mini carrots- works well with no peeling or chopping involved)
- 2 stalks celery, cut in 2-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander*
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 8 cloves garlic
- 2 14-15-ounce cans diced,fire-roasted canned tomatoes (if you can’t find fire-roasted, don’t worry, just use regular canned, diced tomatoes.)
- 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers*
- ½ cup cilantro stems and leaves, packed (Don’t skip the cilantro, it adds delicious flavor, even if you’re not a cilantro lover. You’d never know there was cilantro included.)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ batch Avocado Salsa, You might want to make a whole batch of this wonderful salsa. It’s great for scooping with tortilla or pita chips.
- Preheat oven to 450˚F. Line a sheet pan with foil for easy clean up. Spray the foil lightly with cooking spray.
- Combine onion, carrots and celery on the prepared sheet pan. Sprinkle with the basil, oregano, cumin, coriander, chili powder and brown sugar. Drizzle all over with the olive oil and stir with a non-metal** spatula to combine. Tuck the garlic cloves under some of the other veggies near the center to protect them from burning.
- Roast for 10 minutes then remove from oven and stir again with a non-metal spatula**. Again, try to keep garlic cloves near the center and under the other veggies. Return to oven for another 10 minutes.
- While veggies are roasting, combine tomatoes, chicken broth, drained roasted red peppers, cilantro and kosher salt in a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to a steady simmer.
- When veggies are finished roasting, add them to the pot with tomato mixture. I just pick up the long edges of the foil and transfer the roasted veggies to the pot. Lay the foil flat on a work surface and scrape any of the spice/oil mixture that is left on the foil. That’s the good stuff!
- Add the salt and return to a steady simmer, cover with lid slightly ajar, and cook for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and purée with an immersion blender*** or a regular blender. If using a regular blender, blend in small batches and crack the blender lid slightly (steam can build up and cause soup to splatter all over the place) or remove the center cap from the lid and cover with a small funnel, a kitchen towel or several thicknesses of paper toweling.
- Return soup to pot, (if using a regular blender) and keep warm. Serve in shallow bowls with a scoop of Avocado Salsa.
* If you’re not familiar with ground coriander, you’ll want this delicious spice in your arsenal. It a bright flavored, slightly citrusy condiment that is used frequently in Mexican, Indian and Southeast Asian cuisines.
** You could definitely roast your own peppers but the skins need to be removed before adding to the soup, which is a pain if you’re in a hurry (like I usually am). I really like the convenience of good quality, jarred roasted red peppers.
** I love these heat resistant, large silicon spatulas. I use them all the time as they keep my hands away from hot liquids or ingredients. They can be thrown in the dishwasher and just don’t seem to wear out. The best part is they’re super cheap so I like to have a bunch of them in my utensil drawer.
*** I’d find it hard to get along in the kitchen without my immersion blender. It makes it super simple to make creamy sauces and soup without having to transfer everything to a blender. They are fairly inexpensive and are a real workhorse in the kitchen.
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