So, I meal plan; every week. I sit down on Friday evening (or Sat morning, if I wasn't feeling particularly motivated by my week) and create. I review what the weather is going to be like so I can grill, or have a nice soup planned (hey, like this one)! I peruse old cookbooks with my copious notes and tips / tricks, and I troll social media platforms for inspiration. Mostly, I have a "baseline" set, write down the ingredients, and roll with the plan at the store.
Items that are in my current recipe review include all the fall flavors. I absolutely think the vibrant orange and silk of a soup spotted with greens and swirled with a white layer of coconut cream shows up the most. It's.So.Freaking.Pretty that every time I hover, pause, or click, the platform does what it should, and shows me "more like this." It's no surprise, then, that I found myself attempting a spicy, creamy, pumpkin soup this week. Layers of vegetables, including bell peppers, along with spices craft an intriguing and simply delicious version of a fall soup.
Sustainability Spotlight: I have found that bell peppers are often "secondary" vegetables and not utilized or featured much except in salads or as an extra crunch on a crudites tray. However, they have more value than an afterthought to your dishes. Depending on the type of bell pepper, there are subtle differences in the health benefits. However, all are low in calories and exceptionally rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants according to Heathline.com which may aid specifically in eye health, and anemia prevention.
While there are various health benefits to these vegetables, there are dangers to human health and environment from the pesticides used to assist in their growth. Specifically, there are significant consequences of pesticide use for bell pepper growth, as reported by beyondpesticides.org. Interestingly enough, while the bell pepper crop itself is not dependent on pollinators to progenate, "...there are 43 pesticides used on bell peppers that are considered toxic to honey bees and other insect pollinators." That number represents a significant amount of pesticides that would potentially impact neighboring crops or waterways from over-spray (over application) or runoff from storm events. Those crops or waterways could require pollinators and / or be used to irrigate crops that require pollinators. Easily, the pesticides would therefore impact other crops. The best opportunity to aid in the sustainability of the overall health of pollinators and the environment is to select organic or greenhouse bell peppers.
1 tbsp avocado oil
1 Spanish onion (chopped)
5-6 garlic cloves (minced)
(1) 2 x 2 inch piece of ginger (peel and grated)
2 bell peppers (chopped) - I used yellow & orange to retain the beauty of the orange color
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp salt
dash of black pepper
1 tsp curry powder (I used Hot Madras)
1-2 ancho (chipotle) chilis and ~2 tbsp of sauce (from a 7 oz can)
3 cups vegetable stock + 1 cup filtered water (or 4 cups vegetable broth)
1 cup (~1/2 can) pumpkin puree - don't worry, the other half goes to my dogs (they love it and it's SO good for their coats!)
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 can coconut milk (full fat)
1/2 bunch kale (coarsely chopped)
In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp avocado oil over medium-high heat and swirl to coat. Once it shimmers, add the onion and a dash of salt to the pan. Saute the onion for ~4 minutes until it starts to become golden.
Add garlic through bell peppers to your pot and saute for another ~5-7 minutes until the vegetables soften.
Add smoked paprika through curry powder with 1 tsp salt and stir to warm spices. Now add ancho chilis and chipotle sauce. Stir to coat all vegetables in the chipotle sauce.
Now, add stock & water (or all vegetable broth as noted above), along with the pumpkin puree. Stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for ~2-4 minutes to incorporate all flavors and remove from heat.
Pour soup and 2 tbsp maple syrup into a large blender (Careful! it's very hot) and blend until smooth (~1 minute Vitamix; 4-5 minutes for lower powered).
Once smooth, pour mixture back into your pot and stir in the coconut milk (reserving ~2 tbsp for garnish as desired). Bring soup mixture back to a simmer (Medium-Low heat) and stir in the kale. Simmer for ~2 minutes until kale begins to wilt. Remove soup from heat
Ladle soup into bowls and swirl reserved coconut milk as desired for garnish
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie