Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday's Soup

Today's soup was inspired by a trip we took to Paris when my husband and I were first married. We were so stupid, we did everything wrong. We flew from Chicago to Brussels and then took a train to Paris. The first mistake we made was that we changed money in the train station in Paris. We were then pick pocketed on the subway that we took to our hotel. The next morning we were attacked by gypsy children, but thankfully we had been pick pocketed the day before so we had carefully hidden all of our money and passports so they were unable to get anything. There's always a bright side to everything!! After that experience though, I was ready to go home. A trip to Paris had seemed like a dream come true and at that moment I felt that it was more of a nightmare. We did tour Paris that day and I tried to have a good time, but of course I was constantly looking over my shoulder. That evening we found a little restaurant tucked away that looked warm and friendly. We saw that they had chicken soup on the menu and we thought that would be perfect. The waiter spoke no English and I very little French. He kept asking. "couscous, couscous?" I had no idea what he was talking about, but he seemed awfully insistent that we have whatever couscous was with our soup so I agreed and off he went. I told my husband that we may be in for quite a surprise. We were and it was a good one! The soup was delicious and I loved the couscous so much. When we arrived back in America, the search was on to find couscous. Finally, I found it at a middle eastern market. This was quite a few years ago and I have been hooked on couscous since. 
So in honor of the waiter that initially introduced me to what has become a staple of my diet, I am calling this soup,
Red Pepper Melange on Rive Gauche   
The ingredients;
3 large sweet red peppers, chopped
1 medium eggplant, cubed
1 large purple onion chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 28 oz. can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of oregano
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne powder
1 bunch of kale chopped
1/2 cup of chopped parsley
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 cups of water, or more if needed
2 large cubes of Knorr Vegetable Bouillon
salt and black pepper to to taste
Heat oil in pot. Add onions, garlic and red peppers. Saute until onions are tender. Add tomatoes, eggplant, parsley, water, bouillon cubes, oregano, thyme cayenne powder and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Using an immersible blender, puree soup mixture. At this point, you could stop if you like and eat the soup as is, but I wanted to add the kale. Kale is such a vitamin rich vegetable and and it adds a lovely taste to the soup. Remove the stems from the kale and chop. Add to soup. Once again, bring to a low boil and then reduce heat, cook on a low fire until kale is tender.
In a separate pot, make the couscous according to package directions.
To serve, ladle up the soup and then place couscous in the center of the bowl. I decorated my couscous with a few sprigs of Cuban oregano that I am growing in my kitchen window.
The soup is actually very light, but the mixture of herbs and vegetables makes it feel so rich and satisfying. I hope that if you give it a try you'll enjoy it as much as I do!

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