If you follow the paleo diet, and you ever get a cold, someone will probably ask you: "I thought you ate healthy? But you still get sick?" as if you could have prevented getting sick. The saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" bares some truth: your body's number one source of nutrients is the food it eats! But let's get real: those nutrients are used to make your immune system strong, not invincible. Having a strong immune system doesn't mean you'll never get sick, it simply means that when you do, your body will be well equipped for the battle.
It seems like the older I become, the less tolerant I am of being under the weather. I spent most of high school with a stuffy nose and fluid in my lungs--my doctor eventually called it "seasonal asthma", even though it was far from it. I was just sick, and couldn't get over it. My body was overworked, not getting enough nutrients, and never had the energy to fully stamp out a cold. In fact, my immune system was likely too weak to fight off that cold over the course of a few days. I had other things going on, and really couldn't be bothered to take it easy anyways. A cold was not going to stop me from accomplishing my agenda.
I still have a hard time "taking it easy" when I'm under the weather, determined to live out my plans, runny nose, sneezes and all. I complain about it a bit more, and I make soup--no matter the weather.
Last week, I came down with a cold. The spring in my step was gone, but thankfully my now well-equipped immune system fought it off in only a few days. My Healing Lemongrass Soup was on the menu, even though we had a straight week of bright and sunny weather for the first time all year. This Paleo Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Bisque would have been perfect, as it's bursting with vitamin C, and showcases warm-weather produce. Garden-fresh tomatoes taste best in this soup, as their flavor really shines through. Home-grown tomatoes are only available at the end of summer around here, but my stepmother froze a big bag of vine-ripe heirloom tomatoes last September, and I pulled them out to make this soup. It's like a splash of sunshine in a bowl! Roasted red peppers add a tangy sweetness to the soup, while coconut milk makes it rich and creamy.
Paleo Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque
24 ounces ripe tomatoes, diced
2 bell peppers
1 teaspoon coconut oil
4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cup broth
3/4 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
Salt & Pepper
Optional: Red pepper flakes, kalamata olives, and coconut milk for garnish
1. In a small soup pot, heat the coconut oil. Mince the garlic, and toss it into the pot. Sauté until golden.
2. Slice the bell peppers in half, and remove the seeds and stems. Place them, skin-side up on a cookie sheet and place in the oven. Turn the oven to a low broil. Broil the peppers for 5-10 minutes (depends on your oven) until the skin of the peppers is charred. Remove from oven and place peppers in a bowl immediately (use tongs, they'll be hot!). Lay a a cloth towel over the bowl. This will trap moisture in the bowl, so that you can remove the charred skin.
3. While the peppers cool, put the diced tomatoes and broth in the pot. Cover, and bring to a simmer.
4. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, work with one at a time to peel off the blackened skin. Some char will add flavor, but leaving all of it will overwhelm the soup. Discard the blackened bits, and chop the remaining meat of the pepper. Add it to the soup pot.
5. When the tomatoes are softened through, dump the entire soup in a blender. Add the coconut milk. Blend on high until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, a drizzle of coconut milk, or some minced olives.