Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spicy Red Pepper, Tomato and Barley Soup

Mmm. It's Tuesday, not my favourite day of the week, it always seems too far from the weekend. It's not Monday, during which you still have the pleasant glow left from the weekend. And it's not Wednesday, which is only 2 days short of the hallowed weekend. It's just stuck in the middle, like, well, like a Tuesday. And so, it is on this day that I bring (back) to you (again) this delicious soup! It'll warm your heart, your mouth, your tummy and even your fingers, if you chop chillies like I do!

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I have posted this soup before, but I made one or two changes this time, like using (previously fresh and now dried) chillies that were a gift from a friend who grows them. I got them when they were glossy and fresh, and was scared of using them, and now they're wrinkly and dry, but still just as good chopped and used in soup! Oh, and a word to the wise? When you chop chillies, touch them as little as possible, and then wash your hands immediately! Don't carry on, like I did, and then go and touch your nose or something like that, because it will burn! BURN!! And please, please don't touch your eyes, it will hurt!

Now we have the safety warnings under control, please don't let them stop you from making this soup. It's warming, filling and, above all, easy to make! And with that, I give you, for Meat Free Monday, Spicy Red Pepper, Tomato and Barley Soup.

200g Imbo Soup Mix (buy it at Pick n Pay, by the pulses and grains; if you aren't in South Africa, substitute with a mix of pearl barley, split peas and brown lentils)
2 cans (410g each) tomato and onion mix, or chopped tomatoes
1 red pepper, diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed (or 1-2 tsps bottled crushed garlic)
2 onions, chopped (I used 1 red and 1 yellow, but I don't think the colour makes any difference to the flavour)
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped OR 1-2 tsps red or cayenne pepper, dependent on heat tolerance
1 litre chicken stock
I also threw in a chopped fresh tomato, because I had one languishing in the fridge.

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  1. Heat some oil in a heavy bottomed, large soup pot. Fry the onions, garlic, chopped chilli and red pepper until the onions are translucent. I also put the chopped tomato in here, when the onions looked like they were close to being done.
  2. When the onion and pepper mix is done, pour in the tomato and onion cans, and the chicken stock, then add the 200g of Soup Mix.
  3. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a gentle simmer and cook for 1-1.5 hours, or until the barley and split peas are cooked, stirring regularly to prevent the pulses from sinking to the bottom and burning.
  4. When everything is soft, take off the heat, and blend with an immersion blender until the desired chunkiness is reached. Sometimes I prefer it smoother, sometimes more rustic. Use more of the soup mix for a thicker, more rustic feel if you like.
When this stage was over, I had some whole kernel corn in the fridge and some frozen peas, which I threw in for some extra colour, which gave it some nice sweetness to offset the spiciness of the chilli. This soup can also benefit from some chopped chorizo lightly fried and added in at the end, and some cream or sour cream stirred in just before serving to lighten the chilli. I didn't add any meat, since it was Meat Free Monday, but I think it would work very well.
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  1. Sounds lovely! I like the corn and peas added at the end - must've looked very colourful.

  2. @Marisa it DID! I must get a camera and start photographing my food. Really, I'm a food blogger, how can I let this happen!


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