I should admit that I have an affinity for red things. Red dresses, underwear, and shoes in particular. On some days, I can even be found to be wearing all three at once (if you're brave enough to ask me and find out, ha!). It should come as no surprise then, that red soups would be particularly attractive to me.
There's very good reason to eat lots of red things: lycopene and capsaicin are just two of them. Potent antioxidants, lycopene and capsaicin are found in lots of foods, including capsicums, tomatoes, and chilli. The good news on lycopene's behalf, is that its concentration is actually increased by cooking -- so roasting those capsicums is a very good (and delicious) idea.
Combining rich, roasted flavours with a texture that is smooth yet hearty, this soup is a pot of nourishing power. It's also a basic version of what I imagine could be a very eccentric soup. I haven't even included onions, folks. Substitute the carrots for some sweet potato? I'm only 1000% sure that it would be amazing. Add some more spices for a curry-flavoured version? Or perhaps take it down a Moroccan route? Keep me in the loop with your adventures!
ROASTED CAPSICUM + LENTIL SOUP
4 small carrots, halved and sliced
2 large red capsicums, cored and chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
0.5 cumin seeds
0.5 tsp coriander seeds
0.5 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup dried red lentils
4-6 cups/1-1.5 litres water or stock
1 tsp smoked paprika
Preheat oven to 175C/300F. Line a large roasting pan with baking paper. Toss together the carrots, capsicum, garlic, cumin, coriander, chilli and olive oil. Add a big pinch of salt and spread out in the roasting pan. Roast for 1 hour, until soft and starting to colour.
Meanwhile, add the lentils and 4 cups of water/stock to a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes or so, until the lentils are very soft.
When the vegetables are finished roasting, carefully tip them into a blender, pour in the contents of the saucepan. Blend on high until smooth, adjusting with more water/stock to desired consistency. Alternatively, add the vegetable to the saucepan and puree with a stick blender. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, lots of cracked black pepper, and any of the following: cornbread (pictured), brown rice, quinoa, black beans, chickpeas, farinata, or polenta.