Oh gosh, am I ever happy to be back at home! Thankfully I was able to enjoy the summer weather this weekend. 22°C, baby! Rob and I took advantage of the glorious weather by taking out our bikes for our first (real) bike ride of the year. I know it has only been 3 months, but I had forgotten how much I love riding my road bike.
With the beautiful weather in Toronto, the last thing I wanted was to cook up a storm over the weekend. Rob made a delightful savoury lentil and rice soup that I will be sharing, but it was times like this that I really appreciated having a freezer with the taste of summer.
If you thought my fridge was full, you haven’t seen my freezer yet! It is filled with cooked beans, herbs, frozen veggies and fruit, and of course, some meals that I have popped in there for emergencies. Rob and I have a physical menu of possibilities from the freezer: a white board where we keep track of what’s lurking in the cold. Mainly so that we know what’s in there… so we don’t forget about the container of black eyed peas, half a can of whole tomatoes, or this roasted red pepper and tomato soup with zucchini and cranberry beans.
Earlier, way earlier in the summer, I gushed over Denis Cotter. Except I only shared two of his recipes, his not-quite-authentic yet still delicious Massaman curry and the Pan-Fried King Oyster Mushrooms and Bok Choy over a Wasabi Millet Mash. I actually made a few of his recipes this summer, and when I pulled out this soup from the freezer, I was aghast that I hadn’t shared it yet. Shame on me, because it is great.
Cotter is the master of the multi-component meal, bringing out the best of each part of the dish. The original recipe can be found in his new cookbook For The Love of Food. Red peppers and tomatoes, right at summer’s peak, were roasted to perfection, then simmered and pureed to create a silky broth. Meanwhile, you cook your cranberry beans (I used fresh ones so this was fast, but dried beans could work, too, after you cook them). You then toss them with lemon juice and marjoram. Next, you saute the zucchini with garlic to take off their raw edge. This can all be done as the veggies are roasting. When you are all set to eat, ladle out a portion of the tomato-red pepper broth, top with zucchini and cranberry beans. Each component is slightly different, both in taste and texture, creating a complex and tasty soup. The lemony beans with the garlicky zucchini swim in the creamy and rich broth with wonderful results. Cotter also included a basil-chili oil recipe to drizzle overtop but I honestly thought the soup was great without it.
Thankfully, this soup freezes well (I made individual servings and simply combined all the components together) and I still have a few servings left. It is nice to have a taste of summer at the tale end of winter, when flavourful tomatoes are just a faint memory.
Cotter’s Borlotti Bean, Zucchini and Roasted Red Pepper Soup
From For The Love of Food
4 red peppers, cored and halved
4 tomatoes, quartered
2 red onions, thickly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
800ml vegetable stock
200g podded fresh Borlotti or cranberry beans (from 1 lb) – can substitute 1 cup of your favourite white bean
1 tbsp dried marjoram
zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 lb zucchini (3-4 small zucchinis), thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1. Preheat the oven broiler. Line a small roasting pan with aluminum foil. Place the pepper halves in the pan, cut side down, and place in the oven on the shelf closest to the broiler with the oven door slightly ajar. Broil until the pepper skins are completely black, about 8-15 minutes. Remove from the oven, wrap the pepper in the foil and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and rub off the skins of the peppers. Slice the peppers into large strips and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, toss the chopped tomatoes and onions in a bit of olive oil and roast at 400F for 20 minutes, until browned.
3. Place the roasted peppers, tomatoes and onions in a large saucepan with the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
4. Meanwhile, cook the fresh Borlotti beans in boiling water for 10-15 minutes, until tender. Drain and stir in the marjoram, lemon zest and juice and a tbsp of olive oil. Add salt to taste. *This alone is a good bean salad.
5. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Add the sliced zucchini and garlic and saute for 5-6 minutes, until tender (but not mushy). Stir in the green onions and beans and cook for another minute, until heated through.
6. To serve, plate the vegetable mixture into bowls and ladle broth overtop and around. Season with salt and pepper to taste.