Friday, February 3, 2017

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup with Pearl Barley Pilaf

This all came about because, while I was home in California for Christmas, my beautiful sister gave me a little bag of sun-dried tomatoes her friend had grown.

I'm not a big fan, normally. I mean, I love tomatoes to death - if I received heirloom tomatoes in place of actual heirlooms from a deceased family member I would be like SWEET and say a lil prayer. But sun-dried? Ew wrinkles gross.

Okay, so that's not the reason. My formative years were in the '90s, see, and sun-dried tomatoes were everywhere but especially in places I thought were fancy. And wanting to someday be a fancy lady myself, I'm pretty sure I ODed on the stuff. To be fair though, these chefs where being very liberal with them. I don't know if there was some sort of tax abatement based on ounces of sun-dried tomatoes used, or a secret contest among the culinary illuminati to see how many chefs could throw on a dish before someone would be gauche enough to complain (both v. logical explanations), but it was just sun-dried city. And sun-dried tomato city ain't big enough for no other flavors, y'hear?

Let's be reasonable with ratios, please.

But you tell me someone grew something in the garden without killing it, and then went to the extra step of processing it in some way, and I can have it for free? That is mid-30s professional woman catnip. Imma find something to do with those sun-dried tomatoes that I delicately transported via Delta Comfort Plus, so help me God. And I'm gonna make me like it.

If you smash the words "Finished Barley" together you get Farley. Do you date me?

Add some not-dried tomatoes, red peppers and a little spice in the mix, plus OH LAWD a chewy grain, and I was pretty much in comfort food heaven. Particularly when you add in this bit of over-the-top salivary-gland-stimulating oomph:

Note: not potato skins. I was planning to make grilled cheese but the corner store was all out of good bread, so I stopped at Brezel for some little pretzel sticks. Turns out I accidentally happened upon the perfect soup dippers. I split them, topped half with caramelized shallots and white cheddar and the other half just with white cheddar and threw them under the broiler. Will you want to eat these all day? Yes. But you'll be glad when they're gone and you can be at peace as you count your blessings AKA how many ended up in your tum.

On a serious note: we need to talk about pearl barley. It is so delicious I want to call it like "deloish" or something equally awful, but I'd never do that. You chew it and you're like "Oh, I'm nourishing myself. My body and my soul. Wow, who knew?" (Basically every bite is like that.)

Soup before it learned to sing.

What you can expect from this recipe is a perfect winter night affair - easy to throw together and familiar flavors with a few unexpected touches to remind you it's the fruit of your labor rather than an off-the-rack situation. 

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup with Pearl Barley Pilaf

Serves 4

2 tablespoons plus a splash of olive oil
1/3 cup pearl barley
1 shallot, minced
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3 cups vegetable broth or no-chicken broth (or whatever you wanna do about broth)
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
1 28 oz. can whole San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
Zest of one Meyer lemon
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh grated parmigiano reggiano
Splash of sherry vinegar

Heat a splash of olive oil in a small pot over medium-high heat, then add shallot, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add barley and cook until barley is starting to look toasty. Add one cup of broth and bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes or until water is absorbed, and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat your oven's broiler, moving your oven rack to its highest perch - mine goes to 500 so that's what I set it at. Take a large rimmed baking sheet and dump the can of tomatoes (including juice) onto it along with the roasted red peppers. Add the two tablespoons of olive oil and the red pepper flakes and mush it all together. Season with salt and pepper, and then throw it under the broiler for 10 or 12 minutes. When the tomato juice starts to turn black, take it out and dump it into another pot, scraping all the charred bits in. Add the remaining two cups of broth along with the basil, turn the heat to medium-high and let that come to a low boil, then stir in parmigiano reggiano.

Remove soup from heat and purée using an immersion blender. Add a splash of sherry vinegar and stir, then taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle soup into bowls.

Stir lemon zest and chopped parsley into barley pilaf, then divid it equally among bowls and serve.

1 comment:

  1. My son requested I make a new soup. We're going to try this. I hope I love it as much as I like reading your blog. You are wonderful.