I have a confession to make.
I may be the only person on the planet--of the admittedly small subset who care about such things--who is kinda underwhelmed by Isa Moskowitz' Veganomicon . I've made two or three dishes from it so far, and none of them have really knocked my socks off; they've all kind of made me think "ehhh, this is OK, but it would be way better with some cheese/bacon/cream/pork belly/clarified butter." (Which sounds like the Best Ingredient List ever right there.)
If there's another cookbook out there that's a better ambassador for the Vegan Way, please let me know about it. I know there are lovely vegan soups in this world--I've actually made and blogged a few of them--and I'd love to hear about any others. (Or, if there's a recipe or three from Veganomicon that is all kinds of made of delicious, please let me know so I can give it a fair chance.)
So... yeah, this is a good soup if you are tired and don't want to go to the store. The roasted garlic is sweet and perky; the rice is nice, if sort of overwhelming in the amount suggested in the recipe (I've cut it down in the rendition given below); the beans, well, once I saw how thick the soup had gotten with the rice I wasn't going to clog it up further with beans, so I left them out. I would suggest (and the recipe below reflects) spicing it up a bit.
Tomato-Rice Soup with Roasted Garlic
Serves four (I halved the original recipe, except the onion)
1 head of garlic
A wee drizzle of olive oil
A sprinkling of salt and pepper
2 Tbsp more olive oil
1 medium-to-large onion, diced very small
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1 tsp dried marjoram, crushed
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, crushed--oh wait, they're already crushed, don't bother
4 cups water--which the original recipe called for--or broth--which I think would have been far preferable
1/3 cup long-grain brown or white rice--less than the 1/2 cup called for originally
1/2 cup sherry--optional but recommended
1/2 to 1 tsp salt, depending on the saltiness or lack thereof of your broth
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Preheat oven to 425. Cut off the top of the head of garlic so that the cloves are exposed. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake until cloves are very tender and delicious-smelling, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, unwrap and allow to cool. If you're doing this far enough ahead of time, you can squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skins into a small bowl and mash it with a fork, then set it aside; if you're doing it as you frantically prepare everything else, don't bother until you've reached the simmering step below.
In a soup pot, heat olive oil; add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add seasonings and cook, stirring, for a minute more.
Add tomatoes, water/broth, rice, salt and optional sherry. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until rice is just tender, about 15 minutes for white rice or 40 minutes for brown. (Taste it to make sure.) If you haven't done so already, squeeze out garlic and mash.
When rice is tender, stir in garlic; cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes more. Remove bay leaves before serving.
Serve lavished tenderly with parsley. I recommend eating this while snuggled down watching something heartwarming on TV, such as the second episode of the first season of "All Creatures Great and Small," which accompanied our dinner last night.