I’m baaack! (What’s that? You hadn’t noticed I’d gone anywhere?). If you follow me on Facebook you’ll know where I’ve been – I was off eating far too much ice cream in Rome for a week. And before that… well, honestly, I was just being lazy. But I’m back now, and even after spending a week in the country that invented pasta, I couldn’t resist joining in with this month’s Pasta Please, hosted by We Don’t Eat Anything With A Face and Tinned Tomatoes. I’m cutting it very fine, since entries close tomorrow, but I reckon this soup was worth waiting for.
The theme for this month’s Pasta Please was peppers. A bowl of pasta with peppers stirred through would be delicious, but after eating so many bowls of pasta in Rome, I thought I’d do something a little different to mix it up a bit – hence, soup. I’ve not used orzo (rice-shaped pasta) before, but it was the perfect thing to turn this bowl of soup into a hearty, filling lunch. It definitely didn’t need any bread at the side. Plus, the orzo is so small that it cooks really quickly so this is pretty much hassle-free. If you can’t find orzo, any tiny pasta shapes will work (I saw Hello Kitty pasta shapes in the shop and I was very tempted…).
I’m aware that it’s not been that long since I last posted a roasted pepper recipe (my roasted pepper and goat’s cheese risotto), but they’re so. damn. good. that I don’t care. Take a humble red pepper, the sort you’d find in salads and all sorts of other untempting things, and stick it in the oven for half an hour, and somehow it becomes completely drool-worthy. There must be some sort of magic at work inside my oven, because any vegetable you stick in there to roast comes out infinitely better.
The soup itself is vegan, by the way, but it was insanely good with a bit of cheese stirred through, just like you might do with an actual bowl of pasta. Use vegan cheese if you need to.
Head on over to We Don’t Eat Anything With A Face to see the other entries (click the picture):
- 2 red peppers, whole
- 1tbsp oil
- ½ onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 650ml vegetable stock (I used one vegetable stock cube plus 650ml water)
- 1tbsp tomato pureé
- Black pepper
- 150g orzo
- 50g fresh spinach, shredded
- 1tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- Grated cheese, to serve (optional)
- Heat the oven to 200°C (Gas Mark 6 / 400°F). Place the whole peppers on a baking tray, and roast for around 30 minutes, until soft and slightly charred. Remove from the oven, and place on a plate. Cover with cling film.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the onion and garlic over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until soft and translucent. Set aside until needed.
- When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove them from under the clingfilm, and remove the stalk, seeds and skins (they should peel off easily). Chop the flesh into small pieces, and add to the onion and garlic. Return the pan to a medium heat, and mix well to break down the pepper a little. Add the stock and tomato pureé, and season well with black pepper. Bring to a simmer, and add the orzo. Simmer gently for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly to ensure the orzo doesn't settle and catch on the bottom of the pan.
- When the orzo is nearly cooked, add the spinach and parsley. Cook for a further couple of minutes, and then serve, topped with grated cheese if desired.