Roasted Red Pepper & Sweet Potato Soup

Red pepper sweet potato soup

I have a special treat for you today: Love & Flour’s first guest post, written by my blogless friend Jenn. That’s right, Jenn does not have a food blog, or any blog for that matter. We push the envelope around here. In all seriousness, after weeks of hearing how she was nervous to write, my verdict is she is going to put me out of business. I hope you enjoy!

Expectations.  It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to get caught up in external or internal requirements, benchmarks, or ideas.  Perhaps it is the type of job or career we “should be” pursuing, the timeline we “should” meet that special someone, how we “should” look, how our child “should” be acting, what something “should” or “should not” be.  Admittedly, I’m guilty of falling into this pattern from time to time. Every once in a while, it really takes me by surprise.

When LeAndra and I hatched the idea of this guest blog spot, I was quite excited about the assignment. Given I had consumed a beer or two, I truly believe I was in my right mind at that moment. The minor issue I had not considered about this arrangement is I am not a writer. The good news is that I enjoy food, so I figured that should be enough. As an added bonus, LeAndra promised to edit the #$% out of the material. What could go wrong? Let’s find out.

LeAndra was kind enough to take requests of recipes and particular foods I would enjoy. It was like a blank canvas of possibilities! Soup is one of my favorite things and seemed like it could inspire creativity. Images of a hearty chowder or a soothing chicken broth came to mind. After all, soup represented an idea of home, comfort, and what was known to me.

Red pepper sweet potato soup

I’m not going to lie. When LeAndra handed me a container of roasted red pepper and sweet potato soup, I made my best effort to disguise my confusion with polite gratitude.

Pepper soup?

Never had it.  Never considered it.

Bless your heart. Yum!

Internally, my food world was in a state of chaos. This wasn’t a green eggs and ham moment, per say. I just became legitimately concerned that I would fail. Heck, I am not a writer to begin with, but now I was supposed to draw inspiration from pepper soup? There was a little part of me that wanted to back-pedal out of this gig, but it was too late.

I glanced at the recipe, and to my surprise, there were few components. Red bell pepper, sweet potato, onion, celery, carrots, broth, coconut milk, and fresh basil comprised the list.  There was something refreshing about the simplicity of this concept.  I was now motivated to eat, er…get to work.

I cannot tell you much about the first spoonful of soup. After that point, I can share that I made the conscious decision to slow down, release my expectations, and really focus on what I was tasting. I became acutely aware of the layers of sweetness from the red pepper and fresh basil. This was showcased by the sweet potato now transformed into a delicious, pureed broth.

It didn’t remind me of home but I liked my new destination.

Red pepper sweet potato soup

Roasted Red Pepper & Sweet Potato Soup
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup celery
  • ½ cup carrots
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 2 - 2½ cups broth (I used chicken broth)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 T fresh basil
Instructions
  1. Roast the sweet potato and onion at 375 degrees until tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Place the celery, carrots, and garlic in a large pot over medium heat and cook for a few minutes.
  3. Next add the roasted sweet potato, roasted onion, and roasted red peppers followed by the broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Puree with an immersion blender, or allow to cool and then puree in a food processor or blender. Before serving, stir in the basil.
Notes
I roasted my own red bell peppers for this recipe. To do so, simply place the whole peppers on a baking sheet and place in an oven heated to 500 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, turning at least twice during roasting. The peppers are fully roasted when the skins are wrinkled and charred. Remove the sheet from the oven and immediately cover with aluminum foil. Allow the peppers to rest for 30 minutes or until the peppers are cool enough to handle. Before adding the roasted red peppers to the soup, be sure to remove the stem and seeds. Source: the incomparable Ina Garten

I do not have an immersion blender, so I use a stand blender or food processor to smooth out my soups. It is very important to allow the soup to come to room temperature before pureeing it in a stand blender or food processor. NEVER put hot soup in one of these appliances as the liquid will expand and make, quite literally, a hot mess.
 

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Curried Cauliflower Soup

I was not kidding when I wrote I had “plenty o’ soup coming your way” in my last post. I sat down this evening to determine just how much soup that was, and there are at least two more soups after this. Whoops. I hope you like soup.

Maybe someone in the southern hemisphere will appreciate a few new soup recipes as they settle into fall. Or those of us here who are dealing with spring snow showers might also need a warm bite. How quickly I have forgotten those days. I moved to a climate where snow in March was more a freak occurrence than a typical weather event the first chance I got.

I distinctly remember walking out of the door into snow flurries in March more times than I care to remember. I’m sure this happened in April too, but I’ve blocked it out of my memory. When the calender says it is spring, I demand sunshine. If the warmth of sunshine is not yet available to you, soup may have to do.

Curried Cauliflower Soup

I am starting with my least favorite of the upcoming soup trio: Curried Cauliflower Soup. I love curry anything, but cauliflower…not so much. I’ve tried it roasted. I’ve tried it raw and doused in buttermilk ranch.  I’ve tried cauliflower rice. Try as I might, I just can’t find a way to enjoy it with any sort of flavor.

This soup is not an exception to my opinion that cauliflower lacks flavor. Even with the curry and the lemon  zest – which really shone through for me – I ate this with a ho-hum attitude. Short of stirring crumbled bacon into it, I’m not sure I would add this to my regular menu plan.

That said, it may very well be for you. I is not difficult to prepare, and it does make for a healthy, filling meal. Enjoy!

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Curried Cauliflower Soup
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 large head cauliflower (4 to 5 cups of chopped florets)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • Optional garnishes: thinly sliced hot peppers, finely chopped green onions or chives, or chopped hazelnuts (pictured)
Instructions
  1. Toss the cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread across a large baking sheet. Roast at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes or until the tips of the cauliflower are light golden brown.
  2. While the cauliflower roasts, sweat the onion with the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  3. Stir in the curry paste and lemon zest, then add the vegetable stock and coconut milk.
  4. When the cauliflower is roasted, add it to the pot of ingredients on the stove and use and immersion blender to blend until smooth.
  5. Season with salt and pepper as needed, then garnish as desired before serving.
Notes
I do not have an immersion blender, so I use a stand blender or food processor to smooth out my soups. It is very important to allow the soup to come to room temperature before pureeing it in a stand blender or food processor. NEVER put hot soup in one of these appliances as the liquid will expand and make, quite literally, a hot mess.

Curry paste is available in the International Foods section of the grocery store. Thai Kitchen is a common brand. I have also made paste out of powder simply by mixing together equal parts of lemon juice (or water), curry powder, and olive oil.
 

 

 

Copycat Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Mid-March marks my most restless time of year. As soon as it stays light later and the weather turns nice, and all I can think of come 3 o’clock is wanting to skip out of work. Unfortunately, there are usually basketball tournaments on at this time, which does not help alleviate the distraction.

Then I start thinking about how I wish that instead of sitting at my desk I was sitting at a bar in Key West. And then I think, well, why not take a few months and just go out West? To make matters worse, this year I checked my Instagram feed in hopes that pictures of sweet and savory foods would distract me from my wanderlust. Instead, I was inundated with pictures from SXSW, and all of that creativity was like wanderlust caffeine.

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

And all I’ve got is soup. Spring is bearing down upon us; it’s not soup season at all. However, soup is easy for me to make, and I like that I can freeze half the batch and for later. Over the past few weeks, I have made this copycat Pasta e Fagioli soup, a cauliflower soup, a lentil soup, and a roasted red pepper and sweet potato soup. You have been warned that there will be plenty o’ soup coming your way.

When I last left you, I mentioned I was trying to look at my diet with an eye towards health. My healthy eating coach provided this soup recipe, and I could not wait to try it. If I can’t eat a bottomless basket of breadsticks, at least I can have soup with pasta! Whole wheat pasta, but still, in the soup it does not matter. Enjoy!

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Pasta e Fagioli Soup
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup whole wheat macaroni pasta (or other pasta shape of your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or great northern beans
  • ¼ cup dried basil
Instructions
  1. Boil the pasta untill al-dente, then drain and set aside. (I like to toss a few drops of olive oil with cooked pasta to keep it from sticking.
  2. In a large pot, heat the tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, oregano, and thyme.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat, and allow to simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  6. Stir in the cooked pasta, beans, basil, and allow to heat through.
  7. Serve immediately.
Notes
You can also add one pound of lean ground turkey to this recipe. Simply add the ground turkey to the skillet before adding the oil, garlic, and onion. Cook until no longer pink, about 6-8 minutes. Then continue with the recipe as written.