Roasted Fennel, Red Pepper, and Tomato Soup

Roasted Fennel, Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Before I get into my post tonight, I wanted to remind everyone to vote for your favorite Girl Scout Cookie Recipe!!  There are only two days left (the voting cuts off at 10:00pm PST on Friday night), and my girls are really hoping to watch me on TV – or maybe even get on TV themselves.  So, if you haven’t already voted, and you would be so kind, just remember – Samoas Ice-Cream Pie!!

There is nothing more satisfying to me than making something new out of leftovers – or what I call, making something out of nothing.  I hate wasting food, and I love the problem solving (or as some might call creativity) that it takes, and that wonderful feeling when it actually works.

As I have mentioned many times, I am obsessed with Fennel – I love it in just about everything – even cocktails.  Lately I have been slicing up fennel with some red pepper strips and tomatoes, then putting some chicken thighs on top and roasting the big pan in the oven until the fennel is soft, and the chicken is crispy on the outside, but moist on the inside.  It is delicious – a one dish meal complete with a flavorful pan sauce.  It is a weeknight dinner to be proud of.  Well, last weekend I had a bunch of fennel leftover, and some chicken stock and rice in the refrigerator that I had to use up – and it hit me.  I got out my favorite kitchen appliance as of late (I swear that Ninja Blender is amazing), and in a matter of minutes, I had a perfect lunch.  My husband even tried it, and loved it.

So here you go, whether you expand the recipe and start off with some roasted chicken first, or you just go for the soup, I know this will make you a healthy and satisfying meal to be proud of.  Now go vote!!

Ingredients

  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 14.5 ounce jar petit diced tomatoes with roasted garlic
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 cups pre-cooked rice

Preparation

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the thinly sliced fennel and red bell pepper into a 9×13 glass baking dish, sprayed with cooking spray.  Slightly drain the jar of tomatoes, and scatter around the fennel and bell pepper.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast the vegetables in the oven for about 45-60 minutes, or until the fennel is really soft.

Place the vegetables with the chicken broth in a blender – you may have to do this in two batches (use half the chicken stock and half the vegetables) and puree until smooth.  Add the cooked rice, and season with salt and pepper as necessary.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:   Roasted Fennel, Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

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Yellow Rice

Yellow Rice

I am always looking for new ways to cook rice.  White rice is great with spicy dishes to offset some of the heat – but my family is constantly asking for rice with dinner – so I look for creative recipes that I can try. 

I saw this recipe in Gourmet and decided that – like the Zucchini Rice Casserole – this would be hard to mess up.  You can add whatever vegetables you have – leeks, shalots, carrots, celery, or the peppers and onions that the recipe calls for.  What makes this rice unique is the annatto seeds.  I love the slightly peppery flavor this spice brings to the dish – it is not spicy, just very flavorful.  Think of it like saffron, but not as pungent.  I have cooked with annatto seeds a few times, and each time I like the flavor more and more.  I loved the extra punch that the cilantro gave this dish as well – I didn’t have any fresh cilantro in the house – but I had some frozen capsules that I picked up from Trader Joes  that is perfect in a pinch.  I’m sure fresh cilantro would be even better.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon annatto seeds (see cooks’ note, below)
  • 1/4 cup mild olive or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 3/4 cups long-grain white rice
  • 3 cups water

Preparation

Heat annatto seeds and oil in a very small saucepan over low heat, swirling pan frequently, until oil turns bright red-orange and begins to simmer, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, discarding seeds.

Cook onion, bell peppers, garlic, and cilantro in 1 1/2 tablespoons annatto oil in a 2-to 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until vegetables are softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, until most of grains are opaque, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in water and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Stir rice again, then reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until rice is just tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes.

Fluff rice with a fork before serving.

Cooks’ notes:

  • You can substitute 1/4 teaspoon saffron for the annatto. Use only 1 1/2 tablespoon oil and crumble saffron into oil just before using it.
  • Leftover annatto oil keeps, refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 1 month.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here:  Yellow Rice

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