[The daily soup at Amber Waves from Nov. 4, 2010.]

Just finished reading Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi. What a wonderful, insightful, funny, sad, introspective read! Anyone who lived thru the ’70’s would love it. As would almost anyone, excepting guys who watch football all the time. Or maybe not! We’re all in the book! The author’s name is Geoff Dyer. He’s a Brit.

I came upon this soup recipe in a less refined form in one of my dozen soup cookbooks awhile ago, but didn’t want to bother looking it up so I could actually make it. So, I improvised. The customers really really loved it, many who had a sip while paying for it said “I’ll take one more.” Now they’re really really looking forward to having it again. Which is somewhat of a problem, with organic red peppers at $10.79/lb. Although I never use perfect peppers, I wait until they start to get wrinkly and then no one wants them and that’s when I make the soup.

Red Pepper, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Soup
serves 5-6

2 large sweet potatoes, about 2 lbs.
3 red peppers, seeded and cut into large chunks
2 ripe tomatoes, cut in large chunks
1/2 C chickpeas, soaked overnite and cooked to death (or two 15 oz. cans, drained)
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ C brown basmati
1-2 t salt – I like my salt on the light side, taste it!
3 bay leaves
olive oil

Roast the sweet potatoes at 400 degrees for 30-40 min., or until easily pierced with a sharp knife. I split mine in half lengthwise and put them on an oiled cookie sheet, or the little pan that comes in your toaster oven.

Scoop out sweet potato innards (you can use 2 cans of sweet potato, but it won’t be as sweet), and put in food processor bowl. Add 1 cup water, and process until smooth. Add tomatoes and peppers to processor and pulse until pepper pieces are quite small and the mixture is a nice red color.

Saute onions in a soup pot over medium-high heat, with around 2T olive oil. When the onions are soft, add garlic and carrots and rice and saute for 3-4 min. more. Add the mixture from the processor, the bay leaves, salt, and 2 C. water or veggie broth. Lower the heat, and simmer 35-40 min. or until rice is cooked. Dump in the chickpeas, and their cooking water. Simmer 10-15 min. more, and serve.