African Superfood Soup


I love this soup.  First, because it tastes great.  Second, because it's packed with nutrition.  Red peppers, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes are on many superfood lists.  It has onion, carrots, garlic, and nuts as well.  The chicken and orzo make it a complete meal. 
My husband and kids love it too.  Especially when I serve it with naan bread.


Cut the red pepper in half.  Cut out and discard the ribs and seeds.  Slice into thin strips. 

1 medium red bell pepper
Peel and thinly slice the onion.  Peel and cube the sweet potato.  Peel and chop the carrots.

1 medium onion
2 medium carrots
1 large sweet potato

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the red pepper, onion, sweet potato, and carrots.  Cook 10-20 minutes until vegetables soften.  Do not brown them. While the vegetable are softening, peel, seed, and prepare the tomatoes using one of the following methods.

food mill- for best taste, use a food mill.  Cut the top out of each tomato.  Gently squeeze out and discard the seeds.  Quarter the tomatoes and place in a food mill fitted with a large disc setting. 

4-6 roma (or equivalent in size) tomatoes
Discarding the seeds and surrounding liquid are important when making tomato sauces. The liquid adds a lot of water that breaks down slowly and takes time to steam off. It also doesn't add much flavor. The seeds are bitter. Pureeing them releases their flavor, making it even more bitter.

Mill into a bowl.  Discard the peels. cutting- boil a large pot of water.  Add tomatoes and heat until the peel breaks.  Remove from water and run under cool water.  Cut the top out and slide the peels off.  Gently squeeze out and discard the seeds.  Cut the tomatoes into one inch pieces.



Add the garlic and cayenne to the vegetables.  Cook 30-60 seconds until garlic is fragrant.  Add tomatoes and 4 cups of chicken broth.  Using an immersion blender, pulse to desired consistency.  A blender or food processor work as well, it can just be messy to transfer.  Return to heat and cover.  Continue on with recipe or simmer on low up to 8 hours. 

2 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 t cayenne pepper
4 c low-sodium chicken broth
Simmering the vegetables for several hours brings out their flavors.  Be sure to keep them covered and on low heat.  The consistency is good and your don't want thicken it.

Rinse chicken and pat dry.  In a plastic bag mix the olive oil, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Add the chicken and coat it completely in the mixture. Set aside at least 15 minutes at room temperature or up to eight hours in the refrigerator.

1 medium chicken breast
1 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
It is important to dry the chicken so the olive oil can penetrate it, making it more tender and juicy.

It's best not to marinate meat too long or it starts to break the meat down turning it mushy.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 T olive oil. Add the chicken and cook for a minute or two unitl it starts to brown. Turn the chicken and cook a minute or two until it starts to brown. Turn the heat to low-medium and flip the chicken. Place a lid on the pan and cook 3-4 minutes. Turn the chicken one last time and cook until cooked through 3-4 minutes. Set aside to let it rest 10 minutes before slicing.  Slice into thin strips, then cut into 1 inch pieces.  Set aside.  Refrigerate if not using within 30 minutes. 

It's best not to handle meat too much while cooking it because it toughens it and squeezes juices out. The rule of the grill is one turn, but on the stovetop it needs more. It first needs to sear on both sides. Then it's best to flip it and turn the heat down so that side doesn't burn, then finish the cooking on the other side.

After cooking, baking, or grilling meat it is important to let it rest. The temperature continues to rise, so the meat continues to cook. It also distributes the juices evenly, so fewer are lost during slicing.



In a small pot, bring 2 cups chicken broth to a boil.  Add orzo and reduce to a low boil.  Cover and cook 6-7 minutes until almost cooked through.  Do not drain.  Add to the vegetable mixture.

1/2 c orzo
2 c low-sodium chicken broth
Cook the orzo until softened but not cooked through.  The heat of the soup will continue to cook it.  If it is cooked all the way through it will be mushy when served.

Keeping the broth adds flavor.  The starch from cooking the orzo helps thicken the soup.

 
Add chicken, peanut butter, and honey.  Stir well until peanut butter melts.  Add salt to taste.    Serve hot.  Great with naan bread.  

2/3 c peanut butter
1-2 T honey
1/2-1 t kosher salt to taste

Problems

undercooked vegetables- If the vegetables aren't soft enough, the soup will have a gritty texture.  Soften but don't brown the vegetables for best taste and consistency. 

dry chicken- Follow the instructions for the chicken.  Add just before serving.  If it sits in the soup too long, it will get drained of flavor and moisture.

mushy orzo- Cook the orzo until softened but not cooked all the way through.  The heat of the soup will continue to cook it.  If it's overdone it will be mushy.  Cook it right before serving the soup.

spice- 1/2 t of cayenne sounds like a lot. I've halved it before, but like it much better with the full amount.


African Superfood Soup
serves 6-8

1 T olive oil
2 medium carrots
1 large sweet potato
1 medium onion
1 medium red bell pepper
4-6 roma (or equivalent in size) tomatoes
2 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 t cayenne pepper
4 c low-sodium chicken broth
2/3 c peanut butter
1-2 T honey
1/2-1 t kosher salt to taste

1/2 c orzo
2 c low-sodium chicken broth

1 medium chicken breast
1 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper

1
.  Cut the red pepper in half.  Cut out and discard the ribs and seeds.  Slice into thin strips.  Peel and thinly slice the onion.  Peel and cube the sweet potato.  Peel and chop the carrots.

2.  Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the red pepper, onion, sweet potato, and carrots.  Cook 10-20 minutes until vegetables soften.  Do not brown them. 

3.  While the vegetable are softening, peel, (1)seed, and prepare the tomatoes using one of the following methods.

food mill
- for best taste, use a food mill.  Cut the top out of each tomato.  Gently squeeze out and discard the seeds.  Quarter the tomatoes and place in a food mill fitted with a large disc setting.  Mill into a bowl.  Discard the peels.
cutting- boil a large pot of water.  Add tomatoes and heat until the peel breaks.  Remove from water and run under cool water.  Cut the top out and slide the peels off.  Gently squeeze out and discard the seeds.  Cut the tomatoes into one inch pieces.

4.  Add the garlic and cayenne to the vegetables.  Cook 30-60 seconds until garlic is fragrant.  Add tomatoes and 4 cups of chicken broth.  Using an immersion blender, pulse to desired consistency.  A blender or food processor work as well, it can just be messy to transfer.  Return to heat and cover.  Continue on with recipe or (2)simmer on low up to 8 hours. 

5.
  Rinse chicken and pat (3)dry. In a plastic bag mix the olive oil, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Add the chicken and coat it completely in the mixture. Set aside at least 15 minutes at room temperature or up to (4)eight hours in the refrigerator.

6.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 T olive oil. Add the chicken and cook for a minute or two unitl it starts to brown. Turn the chicken and cook a minute or two until it starts to brown. Turn the heat to low-medium and flip the chicken. Place a lid on the pan and cook 3-4 minutes. Turn the chicken (5)one last time and cook until cooked through 3-4 minutes. Set aside to let it (6)rest 10 minutes before slicing.  Slice into thin strips, then cut into 1 inch pieces.  Set aside or refrigerate if not using within an hour. 

7.  In a small pot, bring 2 cups chicken broth to a boil.  Add orzo and reduce to a low boil.  Cover and cook 6-7 minutes until (7)almost cooked through.  Do not (8)drain.  Add to the vegetable mixture. 

8.  Add chicken, peanut butter, and honey.  Stir well until peanut butter melts.  Add salt to taste.  Serve hot.  Great with naan bread. 
 


Notes

1 Discarding the seeds and surrounding liquid are important when making tomato sauces. The liquid adds a lot of water that breaks down slowly and takes time to steam off. It also doesn't add much flavor. The seeds are bitter. Pureeing them releases their flavor, making it even more bitter.

2.  Simmering the vegetables for several hours brings out their flavors.  Be sure to keep them covered and on low heat.  The consistency is good and your don't want thicken it.

3  It is important to dry the chicken so the olive oil can penetrate it, making it more tender and juicy.

4.  It's best not to marinate meat too long or it starts to break the meat down turning it mushy.

5.  It's best not to handle meat too much while cooking it because it toughens it and squeezes juices out. The rule of the grill is one turn, but on the stovetop it needs more. It first needs to sear on both sides. Then it's best to flip it and turn the heat down so that side doesn't burn, then finish the cooking on the other side.

6.  After cooking, baking, or grilling meat it is important to let it rest. The temperature continues to rise, so the meat continues to cook. It also distributes the juices evenly, so fewer are lost during slicing.

7.  Cook the orzo until softened but not cooked through.  The heat of the soup will continue to cook it.  If it is cooked all the way through it will be mushy when served.

8.  Keeping the broth adds flavor.  The starch from cooking the orzo helps thicken the soup.

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