Weekly Winner – A Rustic Bowl of Guiltless Comfort

I’ve said it before and I still believe it – a good bowl of soup can save your soul.  Especially if said soup is incredibly easy and comes together quickly.  Silky Tomato Soup with White Beans and Garlic Oil is the perfect example of that. Hearty and comforting, this soup has a bit of spice and enough substance to keep you going through the hectic holiday season. Perhaps best of all is that, while rich-tasting and wonderfully filling, it won’t contribute to the destruction of your diet like a lot of food will this time of year.

I actually made this soup awhile ago — almost two weeks! But have just now managed to post it.  It still stands as one of the best things I’ve made recently.  I found this winner in Cooking Light and will be making it regularly to ensure my own salvation.

Silky Tomato Soup with White Beans and Garlic Oil

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3-1/2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

8 large garlic cloves, sliced

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1 (14.5 oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup chopped sweet onion

1/2 cup chopped carrot

2 thyme sprigs

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 cup vegetable stock (I used chicken)

1-1/4 tsp salt

3 lb. ripe tomatoes, chopped

2 oz whole-wheat bread, torn

Preparation

1. Heat 3 tablespoons oil and garlic in a skillet over medium for 4 minutes or until garlic is golden. Add red pepper and beans; toss.

2. Heat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high. Add onion, carrot, and thyme; cook 3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste. Stir in stock, salt, tomatoes, and bread. Bring to a boil; cook 5 minutes.

3. Discard thyme sprigs. Place tomato mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Divide soup among 4 bowls; top with beans.

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Weekly Winner:  An Odd (but tasty) Autumnal Salad

Things have been crazy around here with travel and work so not a lot of cooking “just for us” has happened.  However one of the highlights of my solo meals was this salad.  I’ve had the recipe from Cooking Light for quite a while and have pulled it out several times to make, but just never got around to it.  Until a few weeks ago.  Finally, it was time to try Sweet Potato Medallions with Almond Sauce and Chickpea Salad.

There really is nothing to this salad — it has very few ingredients. Most of them are in the tasty nut butter-based dressing (they call for almond butter but I had cashew butter on hand). But the few parts come together for a wonderful, season-appropriate lunch salad.  I like that the sweet potatoes are served warm which makes it perfect for a cool day and helps to wilt the arugula a bit as well.

Sweet Potato Medallions with Almond Sauce and Chickpea Salad

Ingredients:

4 small (4-oz.) sweet potatoes

1/4 cup creamy natural almond butter

3 1/2 tablespoons warm water

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 (15-oz.) can unsalted chickpeas, rinsed and drained

5 ounces baby arugula

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Procedure:

1.  Prick potatoes all over with a fork; place on a microwave-safe plate, and microwave at HIGH just until tender, about 5 minutes. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.

2.  Whisk together almond butter, water, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a bowl. Set aside.

3.  Brush potato slices on 1 side with 1 tablespoon oil. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Working in batches, cook potato slices, oil side down, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

4.  Combine chickpeas, arugula, salt, pepper, remaining 2 tablespoons juice, and 1 tablespoon oil in a large bowl. Divide chickpea mixture among 4 plates; top with sweet potato slices. Drizzle with almond butter sauce.

Weekly Winner:  A Humdinger of a Hummus — Soup!

Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before??  Hummus Soup!  It makes perfect sense (not to mention a perfect lunch) but I don’t recall ever seeing a recipe like this before.  I’ve got to admit, among my friends, I’ve kind of become known for my creative takes on hummus — pizza hummus, pumpkin spice hummus, sour cream and onion hummus, buffalo hummus, but honestly I’ve never considered turning it into a soup.

The recipe comes from Cooking Light and has all the fabulous flavors of traditional hummus.  It is creamy without cream and wonderfully lemony and garlicky and simply wonderful.  And super easy to make.  The perfect, finishing touch is the crispy chickpeas and feta. This soup goes down as yet another example of how beige food can be fabulous and amazingly comforting.

Hummus Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups vegetable stock

1 3/4 cups water

1 1/8 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

2 (15-oz.) cans unsalted chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and divided

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

6 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

Procedure

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add vegetable stock, 1 3/4 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt; bring to a simmer. Set aside 1 cup chickpeas; add remaining chickpeas to stock mixture. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet over medium-high. Add reserved 1 cup chickpeas; cook, stirring occa­sionally, until toasted and browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in cumin and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Pour stock mixture into a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure lid on blender, and place a clean towel over opening in lid. Process until smooth. Add tahini and lemon juice; process until smooth. Ladle soup into 6 bowls; drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and sprinkle with cheese and toasted chickpeas.