Diet food. Two words that make me shudder. I’ve always thought it better to take an extra walk or run an extra mile rather than give up the things I love to eat. I guess it’s good that I don’t like junk food, but a life without full-fat cheese and pasta is no life at all. Even so, I find myself heavier than I’d like 6 weeks after pregnancy. I guess a pint or two of Ben & Jerry’s a week for 9 months will do that to you. So, it’s time to buckle down and diet. For me, that means more vegetables and more workouts, but no less flavor.
This soup is packed with good-for-you stuff and lots of taste. Bacon on a diet? I say yes! A little bacon goes a long and delicious way. It’s an easy soup – carrots, diced tomatoes, onions and garlic. Some spicy smoked paprika and saffron give it loads of flavor, and everything is brightened with lemon juice. Torn bread toasted in bacon fat makes some nice bacon croutons that add just the right amount of crunch and interest. With diet food like this, I should be skinny in no time! That is, if I can stay away from the Ben & Jerry’s…
Tomato Carrot Soup with Bacon Croutons
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
7 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch medallions (about 2 cups)
3 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes (canned ok)
2 cups chicken stock
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. hot smoked paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
5 saffron threads (optional)
3 slices, thick center-cut bacon, cut into lardons
2 cups torn bread from a baguette
Set a large pot over medium heat. Once it’s hot, heat the olive oil then add the onions and cook for 7 minutes, or until they begin to brown a bit. Add the garlic and cook for a minute, then add the carrots and tomatoes.
Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, then add the chicken stock and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Using an immersion blender, blender or food processor, puree the soup until no large pieces of carrots or tomatoes remain. Return to the pot.
Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper, paprika and saffron and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
While the soup is cooking, set a large skillet over medium heat and cook the bacon. When the bacon is beginning to turn brown, add the torn bread and cook until golden. Remove with a slotted spatula to a paper towel.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a heap of bacon croutons.
Makes 6 servings.