Drive the Demand for Better Food
What does that mean? It means we need to make a conscious effort to support local organic farmers that grow fruits and vegetables. We subsidize the wrong crops in this country and by creating a higher demand for locally grown produce we will create the need for more of it. Farmers markets are becoming more and more popular. You can visit, Local Harvest.org to find one in your area. Farmer's markets are seasonal so when they are not available make better choices in your grocery store. Always try to buy organic fruits and vegetables that are produced as close to where you live as possible. If there are no farmer's markets in your area and you live in New Jersey like I do, look for the "Jersey Fresh" signs in your local grocery stores.
Spread Awareness and Write to the Politicians in Your State
Please do your part as a fellow American and learn about the issues that we all face together even if they don’t affect you directly. Check out the documentary, A Place at the Table. You can download and watch it on iTunes or Amazon. If you enjoy this documentary as much as I did, then please urge others to see it as well.
I tried to calculate the cost of this meal per person, but it will vary greatly depending on the ingredients that you use. I used mostly organic items when I made this dish, and when I calculated out the price it came to about $ 3.32 per person per serving (large bowl of soup and big wedge of bread). If you were to purchase regular items the cost decreases to $2.58 per person per serving. The personal choice is up to you, but if you can afford it, purchase organic tomatoes, spinach and peppers because they are all items that are subjected to heavy amounts of pesticides when grown conventionally.
Fire Roasted Tomato Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 (28oz) cans of fired roasted whole tomatoes with their juices
2 cups of vegetable broth (To save some money make your own from food scraps, Oh my Veggies shows you how, HERE)
4 cups of water
3 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon dried basil and dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground paprika
pinch of ground cayenne pepper (if you like some heat)
1/2 cup of whole wheat orzo (or any other type of small pasta)
2 cups of cooked cannellini beans or 1 (19oz) can
2 roasted red peppers, chopped (use either homemade or a small jar of chopped roasted red peppers)
a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese for topping
In a food process or blender, puree the tomatoes with their juices and set aside. In a large soup pot heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the pureed tomatoes, vegetable broth, water, salt, basil, oregano, paprika, and cayenne pepper (if using) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the orzo, cannellini beans and roasted red peppers. Simmer, partially covered for 15 mintues. Just before serving (see note below) add the fresh spinach and a few cracks of black pepper. Allow the soup to cook just until the spinach wilts. At the table serve your soup with some bread and grated Parmesan Cheese.
NOTE: The spinach is best when it is only cooked until it is wilted. If you do not want to serve the whole soup at one meal then ladle the extra soup into containers before adding in the spinach to the soup you will eat. You can reheat the remainder of the soup another day or even store the extra in the freezer for an even quicker and easier dinner another day.