Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

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I think the whole idea of having a mantra is a little cheesy. Although during the last few miles of a marathon — when feel like I could keel over and die at any second — I have a few key phrases I repeat to myself to keep going, life is supposed to be a whole lot easier than a marathon and shouldn’t need mantras.

Or so I thought, before I moved to Korea. Now pretty much every day, I’ve found it pretty helpful to remind myself “it’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.” Thank you, Sheryl Crow.

To say that moving here has been a challenge is an understatement. I’ve battled homesickness, extreme frustration at work, and bus drivers that seem to have only one mission: to make all standing passengers fall down. Cooking has also been a challenge, because the grocery store has different produce every day, and there are a lot of ingredients I simply can’t find. I pretty much have to take what I can get and turn it into a good meal.

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I’ve been meaning to make juk (thick rice porridge – it’s very popular here) for a few weeks now, but never really felt inspired. Then David Lebovitz posted about it and I took it as a sign that the time had come to do it.

Bell peppers were on sale and some fresh corn had just been delivered at the grocery store, so I decided to flavor my juk with them. There were some particularly aggressive little old ladies buying corn at the same time I was, but I managed to get my hands on a few good ears and only suffered one elbow to the ribs!

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This soup is incredibly healthy – you just boil a little stock, water, and rice together until it’s nice and creamy, and then add the corn and roasted red peppers. It tastes like it’s got heavy cream in it, but it’s vegan! I made it with brown rice because it’s more nutritious than white, but either will work.

Recipe:
(adapted from David Lebovitz)
1 cup uncooked brown rice
3 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
7 cups water
1 tsp salt, divided
3 ears of corn
2 red bell peppers
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
fresh cilantro

Combine the rice, stock, and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
Turn the heat down to low, partially cover the pan, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about an hour or until the rice is very soft. You may need to add a little water during this time if it seems to be getting thick.

While the rice is simmering, prepare the roasted red peppers. Either under a broiler, on a grill, or directly over a gas burner, char the skins of the peppers until they are black in most places. Transfer to a plastic bag and let stand for 15 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag, scrape off the skin, and discard the stems and seeds. Cut the peppers into thin 1″ strips.

Cut the kernels off the ears of corn. Heat the oil in a medium skillet and add the garlic. After about a minute, add the corn
and saute for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the pepper strips and 1/2 tsp salt and turn off the heat.

When the rice is very soft and the mixture is like soup, add the corn and pepper mixture and stir well. Continue cooking over low heat for about half an hour, adding water if necessary to reach a desired soup consistency. Stir in the other 1/2 tsp of salt.

Garnish with fresh cilantro to serve.

(Note: any leftovers will thicken considerably in the fridge. Just stir in more water when you reheat if you want to get the soup-like consistency back)

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