Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Roasted Tomato-Harissa Soup with Olive Toasts

Preparation of this soup takes a bit of time, but it is incredibly satisfying on a cold night. Harissa is a hot sauce made from chili peppers, spices, and garlic - you can buy it in the international food section of grocery stores, and nothing in it is un-vegan.

First, cut 1 pound of plum tomatoes (about 4 large) in half lengthwise. Arrange on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, along with one, unpeeled garlic clove and one medium sweet onion (such as Walla Walla), cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Bake in the oven at 425 degrees - the original recipe said for 70 minutes, but mine were pretty done after about 50, so make sure not to overcook. Let cool before chopping the tomatoes and the onion, and squeezing out the garlic pulp. Set 3 tablespoons of chopped onion aside for use on the olive toasts later.

Heat 3/4 tsp. olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining chopped onion, one quarter of a red bell pepper (the recipe did not specify to chop it, but one would assume so, right? So I did); 1/4 tsp. cumin and 1/4 tsp. coriander. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1/2 tsp. harissa and a dash of paprika; cook one more minute.

Now add the chopped tomato, the garlic pulp, one and 1/4 cups vegetable broth, 1/4 cup water, and 1/4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

While the soup simmers, make the olive toasts: cut one ounce of French baguette into 4 (1/4-inch) thick slices. Toast the baguette (if you use the oven, broil for one minute on each side). Cut a garlic clove in half and rub one of the halves over one side of each baguette slice.

In a small bowl, combine the reserved 3 tablespoons of chopped onion with 2 tablespoons chopped, pitted kalamata olives, 3/4 tsp. chopped parsley, just a splash of balsamic vinegar and a dash of fresh thyme. Place one tablespoon of the mixture on top of each baguette slice.

Once your soup is done simmering, remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Stir in 3/4 tsp. lemon juice, a dash of salt and a dash of pepper.

Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Ladle 1/2 a cup of soup into each of 4 bowls. Top each with 1 teaspoon of plain soy yogurt (I like Whole Soy best).

1/2 cup of soup plus one olive toast is 110 calories.

plum tomatoes $2.45
sweet onion $0.45
red bell pepper $1.32
harissa $3.39
vegetable broth $2.69
thyme $2.99
French bread $1.29
kalamata olives $4.99
plain soy yogurt $0.99

On a non-food note (or, non-recipe note anyway), I finally tapped into a few great vegan/vegetarian organizations through - I can't believe it took me so long! If you're vegan or vegetarian and want to meet like-minded animal-loving cool peeps, go to and put 'vegan/vegetarian' in the search field to find local groups near you.

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance