As leaves turn crunchy on sidewalks and the wind blows colder, I (Anu) get a craving for soup. It’s part of fall. I don’t go for pumpkin everything, but as soon as fall starts, I pull out boots, sweaters, and the ingredients for soup. The thing is, Sumu won’t drink soup unless it’s pho, whereas I will drink any soup you put before me, so this was a bit of a solo adventure.

I made this soup while bugging Sumu with text after text regarding my soup adventure. She continued to inform me that she didn’t like soup (which I’ve actually known for quite a while now) and I continued bothering her with descriptions of roasting vegetables and the warm veggie-y soup-y smells coming from my oven.

I’m not going to lie to you; this is a simple soup, but it takes a few hours to prepare. There’s the cutting and arranging, the sprinkling and drizzling, the lovely roasting, the blending, and the simmering. But this is mostly passive cooking, and in the end, you get this gorgeous orangey-red soup which is made entirely with whole heart-healthy foods. It’s old fashioned, it’s got a bit of a bite from the pepper and the chilies, and it tastes great with toast and olive oil, with a dash of cilantro for garnish.

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This is the perfect fall soup; it mimics the lovely turning of the leaves outside, and puts you in the mind for roaring fires, thick nubby socks, and crusty brown bread.

    Ingredients:
  • Three red bell peppers
  • Chili peppers (to taste)
  • Two carrots
  • Two medium-sized onions
  • Half a sweet potato
  • Ten Roma tomatoes (approx. three lbs)
  • Black Pepper (to taste)
  • Two tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Chili powder (to taste)
  • One tbsp dry basil
  • One half cup cashews

So to be totally honest, I made this recipe up as I went along. I knew I wanted a spicy soup with tons of roasted tomatoes, and I just decided to add other vegetables as I went along. So, if you don’t like any of the stuff mentioned above, just swap it out for something you do like. I’m sure many varieties of squash would taste amazing in this soup, and if you’re a pumpkin everything sorta fall person, just roast that along with everything else! I am also a gal who LOVES her chilies. I love spicy food. I cannot overstress this point, and that was the biggest reason I added cracked pepper, chili powder, and raw chilies with a liberal hand. If you are less in love with fiery food, by all means use only one or two of these things (if you take one thing out, take out the chili powder) and simple adjust to your family’s taste. Keep in mind that we’ll be adding water at the final stage, so the spice and veggies will be diluted just a bit.

Now, to the actual recipe!

Before you do anything, soak those cashews in water – just set them in a bowl so they’re just covered and cover the bowl with a plate or something. Let sit undisturbed until ready for use. Next, set your oven to preheat to 350 degrees.

Now, get your veggies out and cut and arrange them onto baking trays. I left my bell peppers whole and stuffed my chilies inside to ensure that the chilies wouldn’t burn. I cut my onions into quarters, my carrots in half, my sweet potato into thick medallions, and all my tomatoes in half. Depending on the size of your veggies you may choose to go bigger or smaller – it’s really up to you – just make sure that many of your veggies are close in size to one another, so that they cook at approximately similar rates. Over the top of your veggies, sprinkle olive oil, salt, basil, cracked pepper, and chili powder. If you like other spices and wanted to add those as well/instead, go ahead! This is YOUR SOUP – feel the cooking genius in you come alive as you play with flavor combinations.

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Slide your baking trays into the oven, and settle in for the hardest part; the waiting. Your veggies will roast for over an hour – mine took right around an hour and fifteen minutes. You want to roast until your bell peppers are all but collapsed, your onions and tomatoes are shriveling (the tomato more so than the onion), and your sweet potatoes and carrots are soft to the touch. For many of you, it is likely possible to get other work done while you wait. I’d wager that you have the will power required to be productive while your oven emanates smells and your kitchen comes alive.

I myself turned on the oven light and parked myself right in front of it with a good book, looking up frequently to check on the veggies. To each their own.

After your vegetables are done roasting, turn off your oven and let your baking trays remain inside until just cooled – about half an hour. You want the vegetables to be at a point where they’re still warm, but not so much so that you can’t handle them with your bare hands. Now, if you have an immersion blender, you can put all your veggies and the cashews you’ve been soaking into whatever pot you’ve set aside for soup and get to blending. I myself blended the veggies and cashews in batches in my blender (it took me three batches) before pouring all of it into a soup pot with about two cups of water to start.

I stirred and added water until I was pleased with the consistency, then covered it and let it simmer. I stirred about every ten minutes to fully combine the water and the veggies, and made last minute adjustments to taste at this stage. Finally, after about a half hour of chopping, an hour and fifteen of roasting, a half hour of cooling, and another half hour of blending and simmering, it was ready. I opted for traditional grilled cheese, and garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and some cilantro, and welcomed fall in the best and yummiest way possible.

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