ROASTED TOMATO SOUP WITH LENTILS AND CHICKPEAS

I made this fabulous vegetarian soup for dinner last night and I'm going to be honest, it was a labor of love, but also well worth it!  It is perfect for a cold rainy night!  Serve with a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich (combine smoked cheddar, comte and goat cheese and try spreading the outside of the bread with a thin layer of mayonnaise then grilling in butter) and of course a glass of your favorite white wine.

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I roasted the tomatoes and red peppers at 350 degrees until the tomatoes were brown and the peppers very tender.

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Harissa isn't an ingredient that I usually cook with and I had a hard time finding it.  It was in the ethnic food section at the grocery store.  If you like spicy foods, add more harissa!

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ROAST TOMATO, LENTIL AND CHICKPEA SOUP

This recipe came from my new cookbook What Katie Ate On The Weekend

3 pounds 5 ounces plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise

2 red bell peppers, trimmed, seeded and each cut into eight wedges

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large red onion finely chopped

4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

2 long red chiles, seeded and finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons harissa (or to taste)

2 28 ounce cans chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 cups vegetable broth

2 14 ounce cans lentils, drained and rinsed

2 14 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

plain yogurt and thyme, to serve

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the tomato and pepper on the prepared sheet, cut-side up, season with salt and drizzle with 2 1/2 tablespoons of the oil.  Roast for 1 hour until the tomato is starting to brown at the edges and the pepper is tender.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for 3 - 4 minutes or until soft, then add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 - 4 minutes or until fragrant.  Add the celery and chopped chile and cook, stirring often, for 4 - 5 minutes.  Stir in the harissa, then add the canned tomatoes, paprika and cumin and cook for 5 - 6 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, add the roast tomato and pepper and use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.  Return the pan to medium heat, then add the broth and stir, season to taste and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the lentils and chickpeas and warm through for 1 minute, then season again.  Serve hot with a grinding of pepper, a swirl of yogurt and some thyme scattered over the top.

This soup is even better leftover the next after the flavors have had a chance to meld together.  I encourage you to take some time on the weekend and try this soup!