As someone who loves a good meal, cooking one, came to me as a natural passion. I belong to a family where meal times consisted of not just food, but also noisy conversation centered around the events of the day and discussing the menu for the next. (ah yes, we are a greedy lot! )

For the most part of my life so far, my contribution in the kitchen was assisting mom and my duties were limited, to chopping veggies and laying the table. Then along came the great Indian wedding, and I was suddenly the queen of my very own kingdom. My curiosity about this magical world, coupled with an enthusiastic sous-chef (my husband, Vineet), led me to take on the challenge of preparing meals on a daily basis, and not succumbing to the convenience of hiring a cook.

This blog is a product of my experiments with food (not all are life threatening :D) for my fellow culinary enthusiasts - especially the newly weds and hungry bachelors and is dedicated to the women who've inspired me in the kitchen;
Aji (s),Ma and Nigella Lawson.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Roasted ONCATOCA Soup

If I told you what "OnCaToCa" was in the beginning of this post... you will most certainly laugh at my (in)ability to come up with creative names...
But I do want you to know about this soup, is that its downright yummers!! And if made with fresh OnCaToCa, it guarantees 100% soup satisfaction :)

Ok, I'm going to kill the suspense right here... it was the shortest name I came up with for Roasted veggie soup I made... with roasted Onions, Carrots, Tomatoes and Capsicum :P  hence the name OnCaToCa... so no, its not some mysterious exotic ingredient that I discovered :)

We enjoyed this soup along side a lovely Couscous salad, the recipe for which comes from Fred, a friend from work who brought this for a potluck party a couple of weeks ago. You will find the recipe for the couscous in the "salad" section of the blog.

- 3 medium Tomatoes, cut into larg chunks
- 1 red/ yellow Capsicum, deseeded
- 1 large/ or 2 small Onions, peeled
- 1 medium Carrot, peeled
- 1 tsp dried Thyme

- 6-7 leaves, fresh Basil, chopped
- 1/2 cup Vegetable stock
- 3-4 tbsp extra virgin Olive oil
- Salt, Pepper, to taste

1.) Preheat the oven to 180 deg C. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.

2.) Chop the Onions, Carrots and capsicum into largish chunks, more or less of the same size, to ensure that they cook in the same time frame. Arrange the chopped veggies onto the baking pan. Drizzle with Olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast the veggies in the hot oven for about 20-25 mins, or till they're cooked and slightly charred in parts.

3.) While the first batch of veggies roast, cut the tomatoes into chunks. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Roast the tomatoes after drizzling them with the olive oil (about 40 mins)
The reason I roasted the tomatoes and the rest of the veggies separately, is that tomatoes have a lot more water, and therefore moisture, before they cook and get slightly charred. This time period is too long for comparatively drier veggies and they will overcook and burn if roasted with the tomatoes.

4.) In a saucepan, bring a cup of water to a simmer and dissolve the stock cube in it. While the water simmers, transfer the roasted vegatables and tomatoes to a blender along with the basil leaves and puree till nice and smooth. Add a little water if it gets too thick.

5.) Pour the roasted vegetable puree into the sauce pan with the water and mix well. Bring to a boil. Adjust seasoning (salt / pepper / thyme) and switch off heat. Let the soup rest for about 5 minutes.

Although this soup is vegetarian, I have also made this with fresh prawns... just season the prawns with salt and pepper & saute a tablespoon of olive oil. To make this more seafood-y puree some of the prawns along with the vegetables in the blender. Add the remaining to the simmering soup right before you switch off the heat. Yum!

Garnish with additional fresh basil leaves and Enjoy with a nice salad or toasted bread. This makes for a delicious, filling and supremely healthy weeknight dinner. Eat up! 

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