Makes 4 servings
1 pound yellow or orange tomatoes
½ cup white rice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 garlic cloves
3 yellow or orange bell peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch saffron threads
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs,
leaves plucked from stems
1 teaspoon sweet paprika or ½ teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1 tablespoon tomato
1 quart vegetable stock
Slivered opal basil or chopped marjoram and parsley for garnish
1. Bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Slice an X at the base of each tomato. Plunge them, 2 at a time, into the water for about 10 seconds, then remove and set aside. Add the rice and ½ teaspoon salt to the water, lower the heat to simmer, and cook until the rice is tender, about 12 minutes. Drain.
2. Chop the onion. Mince the garlic with a pinch of salt until mushy. Dice the peppers into small squares, removing the seeds and membranes first. You should have about 2 cups. Peel and seed the tomatoes, reserving the juice, then dice the walls and mince the cores.
3. Warm the oil in a soup pot and add the onions, peppers, saffron, bay leaf, thyme, and paprika. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion has begun to soften and color, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, then stir in the tomato paste and 1 teaspoon salt. Give it a stir and add ¼ cup water.
4. Stew for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes with their juice and the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.
5. When ready to serve, reheat the soup with the rice, then ladle it into bowls. Or make a mound of rice in each bowl and spoon the soup around it. Season with pepper and garnish with the fine slivers of basil leaves or marjoram chopped with a few parsley leaves.