TWIB Test Kitchen: Roasted Salsa Soup

Time for a new feature here at TWIB: recipes! These are things we make fairly often here at Chez Bean, with methods that are adaptable to a range of different ingredients and diets (e.g. vegan, wheat-free, etc.), and have at least one step a small child can help with.

Tonight, it’s soup, which we chow down on at least once a week during the cooler months (so year round in Britain).

Maize, via Wikipedia

Harvest Moon, 2010 by user "stardust" at Celestron Images

Did you see the big Harvest Moon last night? It’s nearly autumn, which means it’s time to enjoy the last of the summer tomatoes and corn. This soup I made this afternoon does a pretty good job of it. Containing all the vegetables normally found in salsa, it can be made with or without animal products.

This method– roasting a bunch of vegetables, combining them with liquid, and pureeing them– is one you can use with just about any combination of flavors.

Red peppers roasted with garlic, oregano, and balsamic vinegar is very tasty– you can also reduce that soup to a thick sauce for an alternative, tomato-free pizza topping or pasta sauce. Butternut squash with chili, lime, and coconut milk is amazing on a snowy day.  Roasted sour apples and onions are fantastic, too, with toasted pecans or a little crispy turkey bacon sprinkled across the top.

Ingredients:

  • Four big tomatoes, seeds removed, chopped (about 14 oz/ 400 g)
  • Three red bell peppers, seeds removed, chopped
  • Kernels from two ears of corn (about 1.5 cups / 350 g)
  • Large red onion, diced
  • Two to six garlic cloves, peeled and minced or crushed
  • Juice of two limes
  • 1-3 tsp. Tabasco or other chili sauce (optional, you can also de-seed a fresh chili and add it, chopped)
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • Pinch white pepper
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste (that’s puree to you in the UK)
  • 1 cup/ 225 ml vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup / 110 ml milk (optional)
  • 2 big handfuls snipped chives OR green onions OR coriander leaves (cilantro to you Americans)

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 160 C / 325 F.

Combine the tomatoes, corn, peppers, onion, and garlic in a large lidded casserole (preferably round and flameproof). Toss with the olive oil, cumin, white pepper, Tabasco, half your lime juice, and a little salt and black pepper, too. Place in the oven for 30-45 minutes, checking and stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are soft and collapsed and possibly just starting to go a little black at the edges.

Remove the casserole to the stovetop (or, if necessary, decant into a soup pan). add the stock and simmer over medium heat for another 10-15 minutes. Blitz in a food processor or with an immersion blender until mostly smooth.

Return to the stove. Lower the heat and stir in the milk (if using), the rest of the lime juice, and the tomato puree/paste.

Finally, get your wee helper to sprinkle in the green stuff (whether it’s cilantro, green onions, or chives), and have them stir a few times slowly.

Dish up and serve. Makes four main portions for adults or six to eight side dish servings (very nice with fajitas).

Ideas for accompaniments or alternative garnishes:

  • Simple quesadillas (soft tortilla with grated cheese melted inside)
  • Crushed, toasted taco shells or corn chips
  • Hot soft tortillas
  • Crusty bread, with or without spread
  • Grated cheese
  • Toasted sunflower seed hearts
Pairing: If you drink adult beverages, this obviously goes well with Corona, Sol, and other similar beers. Kids, or those who avoid alcohol, will probably like limeade (try with mint leaves and a little ginger!) or a good root beer.
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