Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup

My last produce basket came with 4 onions and 7 bell peppers.  I usually struggle to use one or two of each of those in a regular menu cycle.  Then, someone suggested they were going to make stuffed bell pepper soup.  I was intrigued.  I make stuffed peppers on occasion, but I don’t really like them.  I end up eating the filling and tossing the pepper.  But, it’s winter.  I love soup in winter.  And, here I was with all these bell peppers. So I figured I would give it a try.

I started off by roasting 4 tomatoes.  I just cut them in half, placed them face down and tossed them into a 450* oven.  My tomatoes were slightly under ripe, so I wanted to be sure I helped the flavor any way I could.  You could definitely use canned tomatoes here, but I had fresh ones in my basket and in this house they would have spoiled before we ate them all.

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I let the tomatoes cool for quite a while.  I started browning a pound of hamburger in my big soup pot.  Whie the meat was browning, I diced up an onion, some celery and 3 good sized bell peppers. When the meat was brown, I pulled it out of the pot with a slotted spoon and set it in a bowl lined with coffee filters to finish draining.  I poured off all but about a tablespoon of the fat from the hamburger.  I used that fat to sweat down my veggies.  I added the onion and celery first with a little salt.  When they started to get tender, I stirred in the bell peppers.  While that cooked away, I pureed my tomatoes with a couple of cloves of garlic.  Now, you don’t HAVE to puree your tomatoes, but I do not really like chunks of tomato in my food.  Add the tomatoes and garlic, pureed or otherwise, into the pot with the veggies.

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Give it a stir. Add in broth, rice, cooked hamburger and seasoning.  Then taste it.  My tomatoes were on the acidic side, so I employed a new trick I learned.  I tossed in about an 1/8 of a teaspoon of baking soda.  It’s going to make your soup froth a little bit, but it really does work to mellow the acidity.

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Cover and simmer until your rice is done.  Taste for seasoning before you serve.  You’ll probably want to add a little more salt.

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Recipe:

4 whole tomatoes

1 pound ground beef

1 small onion, diced

3 ribs celery, diced

3 green bell peppers, diced

2 cloves garlic

3-4 cups broth (chicken or beef)

1 cup brown rice, uncooked

1 teaspoon chile powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

dash cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450*.  Cut tomatoes in half.  Place cut-side down in a baking dish.  Bake at 450* for 25-35 minutes or until skins begin to crack and tomatoes are soft and fragrant.

Heat large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add ground beef and cook through.  Remove beef, but reserve 1 Tablespoon of the drippings in the pot.  Add onion and celery to the pot. Season with salt and sweat until translucent and tender.  Add bell pepper.  While bell pepper is starting to soften, place roasted tomatoes and 2 cloves garlic in blender.  Process until smooth.  Add tomatoes to vegetables.  Stir in broth, hamburger meat, uncooked rice, chile powder, paprika, cinnamon and salt and pepper to taste.  If your soup seems a little acidic, add a tiny bit of baking powder and let it foam.  Simmer over low heat until rice is tender.

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