Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Roasted Tomato-Harissa Soup with Olive Toasts

In a quest to use up at least some of the harissa left over from a previous meal, I came across this highly-rated recipe from Cooking Light. It takes awhile because the vegetables are supposed to roast for over an hour.

But alas, roasting them for over an hour is a TERRIBLE idea. TERRIBLE. Maybe 45 minutes? Oh my gosh. Everything was quite charred. I had to toss out half the onion and all of the garlic cloves (the cloves literally turned solid black, and upon picking them up, crumbled in my hand). Instead I threw in some minced garlic to make up for the lost roasted garlic. The stuff that was not blackened was tossed into the recipe as directed. I used my immersion blender to blend it up, but it still had a horrific texture due to the skins of the tomato and pepper, and just in general. The taste was ok but nothing special. Spicy from the harissa and paprika, but just meh.

I did not make the olive toasts, so I just made grilled cheese sandwiches instead. It was yummy to dip them in the soup. Trader Joe's has some excellent light white cheddar slices if you'd like to make fantastic grilled cheeses some day. I'll include the full recipe just in case you'd like to try the olive toasts.

Summary: Soup turned out bleh, probably as a result of something I did, but I'm not going to risk trying to make it again.


Roasted Tomato-Harissa Soup with Olive Toasts
Cooking Light

Harissa is a Moroccan spice paste found at Middle-Eastern markets or specialty food shops. You can make the soup a couple of days ahead, refrigerate, and reheat over medium heat; or freeze it up to four weeks, thaw in the refrigerator, and reheat. The olive spread can be prepared up to three days in advance. The tomatoes release flavorful juices when roasted; just add the juices to the soup.

2 1/4 pounds plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 medium Walla Walla or other sweet onions, cut into (1/2-inch-thick) slices (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded
Cooking spray
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon commercial harissa
1/4 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika or chipotle chile powder
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, halved
8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut French bread baguette, toasted (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Remaining ingredient:
8 teaspoons plain low-fat yogurt

Preheat oven to 425°.

To prepare soup, arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, 2 garlic cloves, onion slices, and bell pepper half on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until golden. Cool. Chop tomatoes, onion, and bell pepper. Set 1/3 cup chopped onion aside for the toasts. Squeeze garlic cloves to extract pulp; discard skins.

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add remaining chopped onion, bell pepper, cumin, and coriander; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add harissa and paprika; cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, garlic pulp, broth, water, and 1/2 teaspoon thyme; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Place one-half of tomato mixture in a blender, and process until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining tomato mixture.

To prepare toasts, rub cut sides of the halved garlic clove over one side of each bread slice. Combine reserved 1/3 cup chopped onion, olives, parsley, vinegar, and 1/8 teaspoon thyme. Top each bread slice with about 1 tablespoon olive mixture. Ladle about 1/2 cup soup into each of 8 bowls. Top each serving with 1 teaspoon yogurt; serve with 1 olive toast.

Yield: 8 servings

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