Did I mention I’ve been on a soup bender? And we’re barely lurching towards winter – no doubt a sign of things to come. Cooler evenings and a stretch of daytime rain during a recent 11-day public holiday-inspired break provided the perfect setting. There’s something infinitely comforting about a bowl of homemade soup. Especially one you can whip up in the morning before yoga and have cued for lunch. And into which you can dunk fresh bread… though on second thoughts, is there a soup not suitable for bread-dunking?
I’ve had this roasted tomato and paprika soup recipe from Heidi Swanson’s first book earmarked for quite a while. I’m still keen to try it, but being short on time, it provided great inspiration for this much quicker version. Which is utterly pragmatic and unfussy – something you could easily whip up for a workday lunch, if you’re lucky enough to have kitchen facilities on hand. It’s a warming melange of sweet tomato and smoky paprika flavours, with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) lending structure and earthiness (not to mention a protein boost as well as iron, vitamins and essential fatty acids). Even the colour is a pick-me-up. I imagine the roasting process in Heidi’s version would ratchet up the sweetness, but my shortcut made a fine adaptation. Much more than the sum of parts.
We ate this with fresh grain bread and organic butter – but I’m dreaming of crisp toasted Turkish bread next time round. Oh, and it was even better the next day as the flavours developed.
And our break? Though we’d been pining to go camping, we decided it was too wet and instead left the 11 days totally unscripted. Pottered round the house, did a bit of cooking, reading, crafting and yoga. And tried not to spend much time online (hence the little break between posts). We got out too, went for walks, saw this exhibition, hopped a ferry to Coochiemudlo Island and circumnavigated it on foot, and got some sun and a saltwater swim at Burleigh. It felt like a really long time. A perfect break really.
Add an extra can of tomatoes – or a few fresh tomatoes if it’s summer in your neck of the woods – to make a chunkier soup. Some recipes say you should peel your tomatoes for soup, but you really can get away without doing this. If you have the time, you could used chickpeas (garbanzo beans) that you’ve cooked.
400g can of whole tomatoes
1 red capsicum (bell/sweet pepper), chopped
2 medium sized red onions, sliced in halfmoons
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400g can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 cup vegetable stock
4 cups water
1 tsp smoked paprika, plus extra for serving
handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
splash of olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
sea-salt and cracked pepper
Warm oil in a heavy based pot and add onions and garlic for two minutes to soften. Add tomatoes and roughly break these up with the back of your spoon against the side of the pot. Add capsicum, stock and water and simmer on a medium-low heat for about five minutes. Add chickpeas and paprika and return to a simmer, cooking for a further two minutes. Check the seasoning and add cracked pepper and sea-salt if needed.
Turn off the heat, add torn basil leaves and serve with more smoked paprika and a drizzle of olive oil.