TOMATO-RED BELL PEPPER SOUP WITH COUNTRY HAM AND CHICKPEAS

I like tomato soup. However, I rather love this Tomato-Red Bell Pepper Soup. The combination of tomatoes, red bell peppers, country ham, and chickpeas is amazing. I made one mistake–adding salt to the soup while cooking, which is usually the perfect addition to tomato-based soups. However, the country ham provided plenty of salt. Regardless, this soup is scrumptious!

Tomato-Red Pepper Soup with Country Ham & Chickpeas

1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes, undrained

1 cup roasted red bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup water

1 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

4 oz country ham, finely chopped

1-15 1/2 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/4 tsp ground cumin

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees

2) To large soup pot add crushed tomatoes and heat over medium; when tomatoes are heated through and start to bubble, stir in roasted red bell pepper, cream, water, basil, paprika, and black pepper; reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally

3) Meanwhile, to large baking dish add country ham and chickpeas; sprinkle with cumin, drizzle with olive oil, and toss to coat; bake in oven 5 minutes, stir, and bake additional 5 minutes; remove from oven

4) Using an immersion blender, puree tomato-red bell pepper soup (if you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender, but be careful–hot!);

5) Ladle soup into bowls, spoon country ham-chickpea mixture over top, and sprinkle with parsley; serve!

Servings: 2 hearty dinner-sized servings; 4 hearty side dish servings

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ASPARAGUS-CHICKPEA-WHITE CHEDDAR SALAD WITH SHRIMP

We are talking salad weather! Though this was to have been a meatless meal, my guys were hungry, so I piled on a bit of cooked shrimp and they were quite pleased with their dinner. Love those chickpeas!

Asparagus-Chickpea-White Cheddar Salad

1 tbsp olive oil

1 naan bread (or pita), cut into 1″ squares

sea salt

ground black pepper

20-25 thin asparagus spears, ends trimmed, cut into 1-1/2″ pieces

6 cups fresh spinach

1 cucumber, peeled and chopped

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives

6 oz white cheddar, cut into small cubes

1-15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

12 oz cooked shrimp (optional), tailless, peeled, and deveined

Dressing of your choice (vinaigrette is nice)

1) Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat; add naan bread and cook, turning often, 5 minutes; sprinkle with salt and pepper, remove from skillet, and set aside to let cool

2) To skillet, add asparagus and cook, stirring often, 3-4 minutes; remove from skillet and set aside to cool

3) Divide spinach between 4 plates and scatter the following over the top: cucumber, tomatoes, asparagus, kalamata olives, cheese, naan bread, chickpeas, and shrimp; serve with dressing of your choice

Servings: 4