Sunday, April 6

Quick & Easy Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup With Onions, Garlic, Garbanzos & (Oh Why Not?) Artichokes - And Lambing With Your Mom

Healthy and homemade, fresh from the pantry.
How do you jump start a lagging lambing season? Try to make a flight at an airport that's 200 miles from your farm. Three lambs, including a set of twins, were born Wednesday morning as we were scrambling to get out the door.

Joe had to go out of town last week, so last fall we planned lambing season accordingly; it should have been mostly over by now. But apparently the sheep, or at least Studly Do-Right Jefferson, missed that meeting because most of our ewes are still pregnant. Or else they heard that my foodie mother, who I picked up at the airport after dropping Joe off, decided that this year she wanted to come visit during lambing season.

My mother's farm stays revolve around eating. Menu requests begin to arrive via e-mail as soon as she books her flight, and on the way home from the airport we stop at places like Trader Joe's and buy enormous quantities of food. Once she's here we make charts and lists of everything we want to eat and when we want to eat it (because my mother is a chart and list kind of person) and then we try to figure out how we can cram five meals plus snacks into each day.

Last fall when she was here we spent countless hours in the kitchen whipping up everything from Pina Colada Muffins (delicious! - recipe to hopefully be posted soon) to Beef Uncurry from The Breakaway Cook (delicious but needs more sauce - recipe to hopefully be posted soon) to the newest version of our favorite whole grain bran muffin recipe: ginger & fresh pear (delicious - and the recipe has actually been posted!).

Things have been a little different during this visit. By 2:00 am Thursday morning we'd driven the 200 miles home in the rain, unloaded the truck, tended to all the animals, and were more than ready for dinner. My mother stood in the kitchen eating cold leftover roast leg of lamb while I slurped up spaghetti with tomato sauce (gasp) straight from the jar and slugged down a glass of champagne.

A few hours later we were back in the kitchen, bleary-eyed and bundled up because I'd been too lazy to haul firewood and get the woodstove going and wondering what we were going to eat that day. I stared out at the rainy grey landscape and thought of the fridge crammed with food, the overflow of vegetables in coolers on the covered porch, and all the things we'd talked about making.

"I have some homemade soup in the freezer," I said.

"That sounds perfect."

My mother has learned a lot about lambing season. She's also learned that there isn't much time to cook or bake anything during it. So far she's helped feed hay, haul water, dock tails, put in eartags, give tetanus shots, make sure newborn lambs are drinking milk, feed newborn babies who aren't drinking milk, deal with skittish first-time mothers, administer wormer paste, halter a sheep, and of course cuddle baby lambs.

Last night I overheard her tell a friend on the phone that she'd pretty much had enough of the whole lambing season experience. I have a feeling next spring she'll try to schedule her visit so that she misses everything except the lamb cuddling.

And as the days and nights pass by in an exhausting barnyard blur, her gastronomical expectations have become lower and lower. We did make a menu list, but only one thing has been checked off of it. Yesterday as we were hungrily polishing off Cream Of Artichoke Soup from the freezer she said, "Do you think we should defrost some lamb shanks for dinner tomorrow?"

"You mean the ones I told you about that I'd already cooked?"

"Yeah, then we won't have to actually cook anything."

"That sounds good to me."

Today when I asked her what she felt like having for lunch she simply said, "I'll eat whatever you put in front of me."

Welcome to lambing season - aren't you glad the freezers are full? Yes!

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup With Onions, Garlic, Garbanzo Beans & Oh Why Not? Artichokes
Makes about 12 cups - Freezes beautifully

This is the soup I'd originally planned to make the day I ended up making Cream Of Artichoke Soup instead - and as you can see, the artichokes did end up in there. It's another quick and healthy recipe made entirely with ingredients I had in the pantry.

A jar of roasted red peppers is a wonderful thing to have on hand, as are canned tomatoes. If I'd had any left, I would have used a frozen container of my own heirloom paste tomatoes from the kitchen garden and tossed in a few handfuls of frozen homegrown Aconcagua peppers (my favorite sweet red peppers). This summer I'll try making it with chopped fresh tomatoes instead of canned. Homemade roasted peppers taste sublime and are something everyone should try making at least once.

Once again I used my favorite garbanzo beans as a flavorful, fiber-boosting thickener, but I have to admit that I caved in to my new status as a Serious Cream Soup Fan and also stirred in a cup of heavy cream from the top of one of my gallon jars of local fresh milk. This soup is delicious sans cream, but whether you add it or not I do strongly encourage you to cook up your soup ahead of time if at all possible. It'll taste much better after a night in the fridge, though even sitting around for a few hours does wonders for the flavor. It also freezes beautifully.

When I served this soup to my mother the other night, topped with lots of creamy Monterey Jack cheese, she made sounds that can only be described as food porn dialog. This easy recipe is definitely a winner.

As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients whenever possible. They really do make a difference in so many ways.

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 onions (about 2 pounds), coarsely chopped
6 to 8 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained (about 1 heaping cup)
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (about 3 cups)
2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained & rinsed
1 14-ounce can artichokes (packed in water), drained, rinsed & coarsely chopped
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 cup organic heavy cream (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat, then add the onions. Stir to coat with oil, cover, and cook until onions are soft and starting to brown, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add a splash of water to soak up any flavorful brown bits sticking to the pot.

Make a space in the center of the pot and add the garlic, stirring so it all touches the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring, about three minutes. Add the red peppers, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, artichokes, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer with the lid barely cracked for 30 to 45 minutes.

Purée with an immersion blender, or transfer in batches to a countertop blender and very carefully purée, then return to the pot. I can't say enough good things about, or imagine life without, my KitchenAid Hand Blender; it's quite possibly the best $50 I've ever spent in the kitchen.

Stir in the cream if desired, let cook a few more minutes, then salt and pepper to taste. Serve plain or dressed up with whatever you like, such as chopped scallions, a dollop of sour cream; fresh parsley or cilantro; some cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese; or a few big fat homemade croutons (perhaps from a Four Hour Parisian Baguette).

How about some bread to go with your soup?
Beyond Easy Beer Bread (my most popular recipe)
Quick Rosemary Focaccia
Whole Wheat Beer Bread
Onion Rye Beer Bread
Savory Feta Cheese & Scallion Scones
Parisian Four Hour Daily Baguettes
No-Knead Crusty Freeform Bread
Oatmeal Toasting Bread (makes great rolls, too)
Fresh Tomato & Basil Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
Italian Black Olive Cheeks
Carrot Herb Rolls (And A Bargain Bread Book For Beginners)
Three Onion & Three Cheese Pizza

You might also enjoy my other Less Fuss, More Flavor soup recipes:
Quick Black Bean Soup/Chili
Cream (or not) Of Artichoke Soup With Garlic, Onions & Garbanzo Beans
Broccoli Onion Garbanzo Bean Soup
Susan's Super Spinach Soup
Garlic Lover's White Bean Soup
Hearty Lentil Soup With Smoked Sausage
Use It Or Lose It Lentil & Escarole Soup
Spur Of The Moment Summer Squash Soup
Simple Summer Harvest Soup
Simple Summer Harvest Soup (The Autumn Version

© Copyright 2008, the roasty toasty foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares stories & photos of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres - and we love cuddling baby lambs almost as much as we love having freezers full of homemade and homegrown food.


  1. Sounds delicious. I do love my immersion blender too. What a handy tool. I hope you're having a great time with your mom!

  2. I love the "food porn dialog" - I can relate! My sister has always complained that my mom (a dietitian and great cook) and I (a pretty good baker) are groaners when we eat. I point out that we groan only when the food is worth it....

  3. You've changed my life! I've made 4 soups in the last few weeks, adding a can of chick peas and it's been a revelation. I'll never go back. (Just made really excellent broccoli, spinach, onion, chicken broth, cilantro, lemon juice CHICK PEA, parmesan -- so good!) Thank you!!

  4. Mom's there???? I'll be right up!!!
    You always have the best food when your mom is there. Oh, drat, I don't know where you live, and I'm guessing that is exactly the way you want
    it. LOL can you imagine how many of us would swarm in? Of course, it sounds like you could use the help...

  5. Interesting slice of life post, and what an unusual (at least for me) life it is. Plus a huge amount of work. Glad to learn of this easy, flavorful soup made with pantry staples - the best kind of meal to know about.

  6. I just found your blog. I'm loving it! I hope it's okay, I've posted your RRPT Soup on my Squidoo lens with a backlink to your site. Come visit at Secrets of Soup Thanks.

  7. This sounds really great! Could you use something else, perhaps rice, in place of the garbanzos?

  8. The only time you really appreciate the city is when you have to get to the airport and back or to the doctor's office and back in 1/2 day. AMEN to a freezer that's stocked.

    Can't wait to see the new lambs.

  9. I have one jar of tomatoes left from last year's Attack. Which will be used to make this exact soup minus The Evil Cream.

    I will spare everyone our food noises.

  10. Hi Everybody,
    Thanks for all your comments!

    Hi Michelle,
    That's too funny.

    Hi Anon,
    Your latest soup sounds fantastic. And how cool is it that I changed your life via soup? Thanks for letting me know! ; )

    Hi Beverly,
    Yep, my mom's here, and I've definitely been keeping her busy with farm work this visit - while not feeding her as well as I usually do! And yet she's still been hanging up (and helping me catch up with) all kinds of laundry. Good thing I found a couple of Chocolate Babycakes in the freezer!

    Hi Laurie,
    This is definitely my kind of Less Fuss, More Flavor recipe. I love freshly picked food, but sometimes it's really comforting to know you can whip something wonderful up with ingredients in the pantry that are hand for just such an edible emergency.

    Hi Barbara,
    Thanks for the link. : )

    Hi Sally,
    I used to thicken up soups by tossing in a few tablespoons of uncooked rice, and I bet this recipe would work well using rice instead of the garbanzos. Or you could add some chopped potato. Or probably even nothing at all, though the soup wouldn't be as thick. If you do some experimenting I'd love to hear about it.

    Hi Giz,
    Yeah, the 200 miles from the airport thing can be a bit of a pain, but the tradeoffs are worth it - especially when the freezers are full! As for the new lambs, I have to say that they seem extra extra cute!

    Hi Finny,
    You always crack me up - and I'm so envious of all those wonderful garden tomatoes you had last year!

  11. This site is my official GO TO for recipes. I ADORE everything I have made from here.


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

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