Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Tomato Rice Soup

LESLIE BUDEWITZ; An arctic blast is blowing over much of the US and Canada today. Which means – soup weather!

(Why a flying pig? My late MIL collected pigs, and this weathervane is pointing the way to our house.)

I found this recipe last fall on the Washington Post website—the WaPo turns out to be a good source of reliable recipes as well as reliable news and commentary. It’s credited as an adaptation from Sicily: Recipes From an Italian Island, by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi (Hardie Grant Books, 2016). The authors’ names—his, anyway—attest to a nice Italian pedigree, but you can be a mutt like me and still relish a good tomato soup!

I’ve adapted it a little further. My big change: the original calls for a cup of instant brown rice, but I’m not a fan of instant food—too much of the nutritional value and taste is lost—so I substituted half a cup of regular long grain brown rice. The reduction in amount is important, because instant rice is par-boiled and less absorbent; if you used a full cup of regular brown rice, you’d have Rice-Tomato Soup. Which is good, but not the point.

The recipe makes a big batch, but you can vary the leftovers by adding cooked beans or chickpeas, or shredded chicken.

A note about tomato paste: If you’re like me and have trouble remembering to use up what’s left in the can, go ahead and put it all in. Your soup will be slightly thicker and tomato-yer, and what’s wrong with that?

Croutons would make a lovely garnish. We toss ends of bread loaves and extra rolls into a bag in the freezer and bake up a batch of croutons occasionally—just cube and toss with olive oil, kosher salt, and dried herbs and bake—but no such luck this time. We’ll be making this again soon, so maybe the crouton gods will smile on us then!

Eat up, and stay warm!

Tomato Rice Soup

4 tablespoons olive oil
3 small carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
3 ribs celery, sliced or diced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional; I used them
2 tablespoons tomato paste, preferably double-concentrated
1/2 cup long grain brown rice (uncooked)
8 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
One 14.5-ounce can diced or plum tomatoes, plus their juices
3 1/2 ounces baby spinach leaves or kale
In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, and the salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Saute until the vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. If the edges begin to brown, reduce the heat.

Add the tomato paste and allow to cook for another minute or two, then stir in the brown rice, broth, bay leaves, and the tomatoes and their juices. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and cook for about 45 minutes, until the rice is done.

Discard the bay leaves. Adjust the seasonings to your taste. Stir in the spinach leaves or kale just before serving.

Yield: 6-8 servings; makes about 9 cups

From the cover of KILLING THYME (October 2016, in paperback, e-book, and audio---large print coming soon!): 

At Seattle Spice in the Pike Place Market, owner Pepper Reece is savoring her business success, but soon finds her plans disrupted by a killer…

Pepper Reece’s to-do list is longer than the shopping list for a five-course dinner, as she conjures up spice blends bursting with seasonal flavor, soothes nervous brides fretting over the gift registry, and crosses her fingers for a rave review from a sharp-tongued food critic. Add to the mix a welcome visit from her mother, Lena, and she’s got the perfect recipe for a busy summer garnished with a dash of fun. 

While browsing in the artists’ stalls, Pepper and Lena drool over stunning pottery made by a Market newcomer. But when Lena recognizes the potter, Bonnie Clay, as an old friend who disappeared years ago, the afternoon turns sour. To Pepper’s surprise, Bonnie seems intimately connected to her family’s past. after Bonnie is murdered only days later, Pepper is determined to uncover the truth. 

But as Pepper roots out long-buried secrets, will she be digging her own grave?

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The 2015-16 president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website  and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebookwhere I often share news of new books and giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. Love your pictures--everything looks so warm and inviting. Aren't winter recipes great?

    1. They sure are! You might be wondering why a flying pig. (I just added a note about that.) My late mother-in-law collected them, and this weathervane sits on our front deck.)

  2. I love a good tomatoey soup so definitely will add the whole can of paste. And since I am all about speed and less about what is good for me, if I use the instant rice could you tell me how much it asks for? Love this and will have to make it some day once it cools off here. High 60s is not the best soup weather, lol

    1. "It calls for a cup of instant brown rice"...

    2. Kay, Libby spotted the answer -- the original called for a cup of instant. In that case, reduce the simmering time to 20-25 minutes.

  3. This looks lovely. I'll just have to crank the a/c It's 82 with a real feel of 86 right now!

    A tip with tomato paste--spoon it out in tablespoon portions on a baking sheet and pop in the freezer. Once frozen, the blobs can go into a zip bag to be used whenever.

    1. Good heavens, 82 degrees? Where do you live? We hit a high of 10 today. :)

      Thanks for the tomato paste trick. I never remember!

    2. South Florida in the general Ft. Lauderdale area.

    3. Ahh. Well, I guess I'll have to eat your share of the soup!

  4. This recipe sounds very good! I will be saving it for future use. Thanks! And stay warm and safe!

  5. Paula in Helena -- where it may be even colder than here -- wrote me on FB to say she made this tonight without the greens, since she didn't have any on hand, and it was just the thing to keep the belly warm and happy on a cold Montana winter evening! Thanks, Paula!