Friday, September 21, 2018

Stuffed Pepper Soup

A few people have asked me how Emma is adjusting to Kindergarten. She went from being home all day, every day to being in school all day, every day. In all honesty, her transition into school could not have gone better. She loves her teacher, loves her class, loves homework (I'm sure that won't last long), and loves her school uniform (I often have to pry it off her at the end of the school day). At back-to-school night, her teacher did approach Paul and confide in him that she believe Emma has a bit of anxiety in large crowds. She explained that whenever the class goes to Mass, Emma immediately gets a bit whiny and restless, claiming to be "scared", and will only calm down when the teacher has her sit beside her. So, she informed us, we might have to work on getting Emma more accustomed to crowds or large-scale social events.


Neither Paul nor I had the heart to tell this well-meaning teacher that she has been completely played by our precocious imp. No child is more social than Emma. She is an extreme extrovert. The issue is, and we know this from personal experience, she is the Queen of Manipulation. She often complains of being "scared" or "shy" or "sad" when she wants a warm lap to sit on. And it sounds like it's been working for her and she has been enjoying a prominent spot next to her teacher during Mass. I'm sure her teacher will figure this out about her soon enough.

So, yes, Emma loves school and has adjusted to it perfectly well! She loves her little friends and has also enjoyed embarassing her older brother Matthew every chance she gets by running up and giving him a big hug or kiss whenever she sees him - which is often considering their classrooms are located directly next door.

In my last post, I shared a recipe for Honey-Butter Rolls and promised a delicious recipe to serve with them. This Stuffed Pepper Soup is a family favorite that is simple, quick, filling, healthy, and delicious. Paul loves this soup and so does - wait for it - EMMA, our pickiest eater. In fact, when Lucy was doing her normal boycott of dinner, Emma told her, "Lucy, this is SO GOOD. You are CRAZY for not even trying it!" Praise from Emma doesn't get any better than that!

Stuffed Pepper Soup

1 lb lean ground beef
2 Tbsp olive oil , divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small yellow onion chopped (1 cup)
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper (a little over 1/2 of a medium)
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic , minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5) can beef broth
2 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley , plus more for garnish
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 cup uncooked long grain white rice (add less for a thinner soup)
Cheddar, for serving (optional...but not really)

In a large pot heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat, once hot add beef to pot and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally while breaking up beef, until browned. Drain beef and pour onto a plate lined with paper towels, set aside.

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in pot then add onions, red bell pepper, green bell pepper and saute 3 minutes, then add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer.

Pour in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth and add parsley, basil, oregano and cooked beef, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring just to a light boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

While soup simmers, prepare rice according to directions listed on package, then once soup is done simmering stir in desired amount of cooked rice into soup*. Serve warm topped with optional cheese and garnish with fresh parsley.

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