For my first official post I decided to start out with one of my favorite healthy recipes. This roasted tomato and red pepper soup is so full or flavor and is a great compliment to these vegetarian meatballs that could convert any meat lover. What I love most about this recipe is that it works great as leftovers, making a very easy weeknight meal. After I make the soup, I let it cool, then portion off single serving sizes into quart sized freezer bags. Make sure you get all the air out of the bags, then lay them flat in your freezer. That way, they are stack-able and take up a lot less space. For the veggie balls, let them cool and put them in a freezer bag as well. Once frozen, you can easily take out a bag of soup, run it under some warm water to thaw, pour it out, and reheat it over the stove or in the microwave. For the veggie meatballs you can reheat them in the microwave as well, or you can put them in the oven for a bit to warm up. Then, just add the reheated veggie balls into the soup, top with fresh basil or another topping of your choice, such as parmesan cheese or croutons for an easy delicious weeknight meal! Enjoy!
Roasted tomato and red pepper soup:
Makes about 6 servings
8 Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
2 red bell peppers, quartered and seeded
1 medium onion, quartered
8 cloves garlic
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 oz can tomato paste
6 cups vegetable stock
1/3 cup loosely packed chopped basil leaves and a little extra for topping
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
On a sheet pan, gently toss together the tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic, thyme, 1 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the tomatoes and red peppers, skin side up, and bake until lightly charred, 45 to 50 minutes.
In a soup pot, warm the remaining 1 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the tomato paste and mix well. Add the tomato and pepper mixture, including the juices, and combine. Stir in the stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Transfer the soup to a blender* (or use an immersion blender) and pulse in small batches that reach only about a third to halfway up the side of the jar. Add the basil to one of the batches. Be careful to start slow then increase the speed to blend the ingredients until smooth. Use a separate bowl to hold the blended soup and then return it all to the pot.
Heat the soup to warm through, then ladle into serving bowls and garnish with basil.
*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.
2 cups lentils
3 tbs olive oil
1 large onion chopped
3 large carrots chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp tomato paste
8 oz button mushrooms chopped
3 large eggs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup corn flake crumbs/bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or basil
1/4 finely chopped walnuts
Combine the lentils and 2 quarts water in a medium stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft (but not falling apart), about 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and allow to cool.
Add 3 tbs of the olive oil to a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and salt over medium- high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 more minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature you can put it in the fridge to speed up the process a little too, if you are impatient like me. When cool, add the lentils to the vegetable mixture.
Add the eggs, Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley, and walnuts to the cooled vegetables and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. Place in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Prepare 9 x 13- inch baking dish with non-stick spray and evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.
Roll the mixture into round, golf ball–size meatballs (about 1½ inches), making sure to pack the vegetable mixture firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, allowing ¼-inch of space between the balls and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another.
Roast for 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through.
Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving