Truth be told, I tend to get a little weirded out by strangers who are overly friendly.
I’m not proud of this fact, but I blame living in NYC for my shameless cynicism. New Yorkers aren’t exactly known for their warm-fuzziness, and we tend to go about our business as quickly and efficiently as possible, minimizing unnecessary human interaction at all costs. For better or worse, many of us are speed walking, headphone wearing, small talk avoiding people, and although I like to consider myself a super friendly person, I’m definitely not randomly bestowing smiles and compliments upon peeps I don’t know. (I’m very busy listening to Bieber with a poker face and thinking deep blog thoughts!) Even in social scenarios, a lot of New Yorkers have their guard up, keeping things “light and polite” when chatting with someone new.
However, every once in a while, I meet a unicorn person that challenges my “hardened New Yorker” stereotype. Someone who abandons all stranger danger and greets everyone they meet with straight up warmth and enthusiasm. Amie Valpone is the perfect example.
I first met Amie at my friend Anna’s book launch in the fall of 2014. She gave me a huge, surprisingly tight hug right off the bat, grinning from ear to ear and calling me “love” before launching into a series of thoughtful questions about my life/career/health. As you can imagine, Amie’s genuine niceness (and lack of filter) freaked this jaded New Yorker out a little bit. What was this lady’s angle? Why was she being SO FRIENDLY? (Stranger danger!!!) But, as I soon realized, Amie has no angle. She’s just one of those rare individuals who is insanely passionate about food, and health, and making new friends—it’s as shocking simple as that.
Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Amie very well (she’s a member of my original blog wolfpack), and I’m perpetually in awe of her strength, perseverance, and culinary talent. I can’t really do her story justice in a blog post—especially since Amie tells it so much better herself—but she essentially cured herself from a decade of chronic illness through her own brand of “detoxing,” which is the premise of her new book Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation and Reset Your Body (released today!!!). Not only does this book provide you with all the knowledge that Amie has gathered over the past decade, including tips on how to “detox” everything from your makeup to your home cleaning products, it’s also filled with 200+ deliciously clean recipes and Amie’s feel-good vibes. She’s like a not-annoying version of goopy Gwyneth, and that is something to be verrrry excited about, friends.
In celebration of Amie’s awesomeness, I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes from Eating Clean, this silky smooth Golden Bell Pepper Soup.
Let’s talk soup details, shall we?
This soup combines the magic of bell peppers and sweet potatoes to create an unbelievably creamy (yet cream-less) soup that’s equal parts bright and sweet. Despite its incredibly simple ingredient list, the soup’s flavor is deceptively complex, and the hint of marjoram gives each bite the perfect amount of herbal freshness. (I added a little bit of cayenne for a kick of heat—I suggest spice lovers do the same.) Better still, this one pot wonder is packed with vitamins and antioxidants and comes together in less than 45 minutes total. Hallelujah, etc.
Like all of the recipes in Amie’s book, Golden Bell Pepper Soup is free from dairy, gluten, refined sugar, and soy, which means that it will likely please almost every single kind of human, from vegans to Dude Dieters. Personally, I love it as a sassy desk lunch, but it’s equally great for dinner alongside a big salad (like this or this) or a simple sandwich (read: grilled cheese). And given its crowd-pleasing nature and festive coloring, I imagine it would also slay as an appetizer at your next dinner party.
Just a heads up, the recipe below makes enough to serve 6-8 as a meal. I somehow came home from the market a bell pepper short (my hot jamz must have thrown me off my counting game), so I decided to make a half batch, which worked perfectly. I’d tell those of you cooking for one or two to follow my lead, but according to Amie, the soup freezes particularly well, so you should probably just make the giant-ass pot and freeze the leftovers for emergency situations.
p.s. You can order Amie’s beautiful book here. You won’t regret it.
p.p.s. Congratulations to Chrystal, winner of the Paderno giveaway!! (I realize this announcement is a week late, please forgive me.)
Golden Bell Pepper Soup: (Serves 6-8)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
Fresh ground pepper
8 red, yellow and/or orange bell peppers, diced
1 large sweet potato, diced
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tablespoon finely chopped marjoram
For serving: (optional)
Avocado (sliced or diced)
Freshly chopped cilantro
Seeded crackers of your choice
Making your Golden Bell Pepper Soup:
-Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. When hot, add the onion, carrots, and celery. Season generously with salt and fresh ground pepper, and cook for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the onions are translucent. Add the bell peppers and cook for about 6 minutes until tender.
-Stir in the sweet potatoes and vegetable broth. Cover the pot with a lid and bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, remove the lid and lower to a simmer. Stir in the marjoram and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the sweet potatoes are very tender.
-Time to puree! You can do this with an immersion blender, or transfer the soup to a regular blender and puree in batches. (Remember, if you use a regular blender, take the little plastic cap out of the lid and cover the hole with a dish towel. Otherwise, you could end up with a hot soup explosion…) Your soup should be deliciously thick and creamy, but if you want to thin it out a bit, you can add a little bit of vegetable broth or water.
-Return the soup to the pot. Taste and season with a little extra salt and pepper if necessary. (I added a pinch of cayenne. Spice lovers, I recommend following my lead.) Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with avocado, cilantro and crumbled crackers (if you like).
Get in there…
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- Sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 8 red, yellow and/or orange bell peppers, diced
- 1 large sweet potato, diced
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped marjoram
- Avocado (sliced or diced)
- Freshly chopped cilantro
- Seeded crackers of your choice
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. When hot, add the onion, carrots, and celery. Season generously with salt and fresh ground pepper, and cook for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the onions are translucent.
- Add the bell peppers and cook for about 6 minutes until tender.
- Stir in the sweet potatoes and vegetable broth. Cover the pot with a lid and bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, remove the lid and lower to a simmer. Stir in the marjoram and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the sweet potatoes are very tender.
- Time to puree! You can do this with an immersion blender, or transfer the soup to a regular blender and puree in batches.
- Return the soup to the pot. Taste and season with a little extra salt and pepper if necessary. (I added a pinch of cayenne. Spice lovers, I recommend following my lead.)
- Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with avocado, cilantro and crumbled crackers (if you like).
Recipe from Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body by Amie Valpone.