I have learned that a simple soup takes kindly to strewn bits of crunch and color, as long as it has enough body to support them.
While this soup cooks, toast pine nuts in a small skillet; dump those out to cool, then use the same pan to brown a small amount of ground lamb with a hefty pinch of ground sumac, draining off the rendered fat. A drizzle of good olive oil enriches the whole thing.
If you plan to save some soup for the next day, expect to see slightly plumper pasta and a slightly thickened soup. Nothing wrong with that.
ROASTED PEPPER AND ORZO SOUP
3 or 4 servings (makes 3 1/2 to 4 cups), Healthy
Serve with a half-sandwich or warm pita bread.
• 1 medium shallot
• 1 clove garlic
• One 12-ounce jar water-packed roasted red peppers
• 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for optional garnish
• 2 1/2 cups no-salt-added chicken broth
• 1 tablespoon grated (vegan)pecorino Romano cheese
• 1/3 cup (1 5/8 ounces) dried orzo pasta
• Kosher salt (optional)
• 2 tablespoons pine nuts, for garnish
• 6 ounces ground lamb, for garnish
• Pinch za'atar or ground sumac
• 1 cup baby spinach
• Few leaves fresh basil
Peel and coarsely chop the shallot and garlic. Drain the red peppers.
Heat half of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the shallot and garlic. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until just softened, then transfer to a blender. (You'll be using the saucepan again.)
Add the red peppers and 1/2 cup of the broth to the blender; puree until smooth, then return the mixture to the saucepan. Pour in the remaining 2 cups of broth and the cheese; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then stir in the orzo. Cook for 7 to 9 minutes or until the orzo is tender and more visible in the pot, stirring often to keep it from sticking to the bottom. Taste, and add salt as needed.
Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, just until fragrant and lightly browned. Transfer to a plate. Return the pan to medium heat and add the remaining oil. Once that shimmers, add the lamb. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lamb loses its raw look. Drain off and discard the fat in the pan; return the lamb to medium heat and add the za'atar or ground sumac and cook for another few minutes, until the meat browns further and even gets a little crisped on some edges. Remove from the heat.
Just before serving, toss the spinach and basil into the soup; reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
Divide among individual bowls. Top each portion with some of the pine nuts, lamb and a drizzle of oil, if desired.
Nutrition | Per serving (based on 4, using chicken broth): 100 calories, 3 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 240 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar