|BIGGEST LOSER RESORT ROASTED RED PEPPER BISQUE Photo by Valerie Phillips|
If you're planning to watch the season finale of "The Biggest Loser" Tuesday night, why not whip up a recipe from the Biggest Loser Resort? You can slurp on this soup guilt-free while you watch to see how the final four contestants weigh in. and the eliminated contestants still have a chance to win $100,000. I’ll admit, I’ve taken a special interest because of all the Utah/Mormon players this season: Deni Hill, Justin Pope, and Rulon Gardner are all Utah residents, and Sarah Nitta, Moses Kinikini and Kaylee Kinikini are also members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
I got this recipe in 2010 while doing a story for the Deseret News on the Biggest Loser Resort in Southern Utah. It’s a place where you can hike, work out, and enjoy spa cuisine to get in shape. Every so often, past contestants from the reality series spend time at the resort, much to the delight of fans.
This is a very healthy, low-cal recipe. (Maybe that’s why I was tempted to add a dash of fat-free half-and-half as a garnish). I adapted the original recipe a bit, because it didn’t offer directions for roasting the peppers. I included the easiest way that I know to roast and peel them. I included some shortcuts — frozen chopped onions for fresh sliced onions, and dried basil and thyme for fresh herbs. I also cut the amount of thyme in half, because the first time I made this recipe, the thyme was overpowering and bitter to my taste buds. Use some restraint when you add the herbs. Then taste the soup, and add more herbs if you want.
Agave is a natural sweetener that comes from a cactus-like plant. It’s popular with dieters because it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. If you don’t have it, add 2 tablespoons of sugar. This will change the calorie and healthiness, of course.
BIGGEST LOSER RESORT ROASTED RED PEPPER BISQUE
4-5 red bell peppers
1 cup sliced yellow onions (or about 1 1/3 cup frozen)
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
3 cups vegetable stock (or use 2 14-ounce cans)
1/4 cup chopped basil (1 tablespoon dried; add more to taste)
1 teaspoon dried thyme (add more to taste if desired)
2 tablespoons agave syrup (or 2 tablespoons sugar)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
To roast the peppers, cut each bell pepper in half lengthwise, clean out seeds. Place each half skin-side up on a cookie sheet. Place in the oven on the top rack, and turn the oven to broil on high heat. Broil for 10-15 minutes, until skin blisters and forms black, charred spots. You may need to move the peppers around with tongs to broil more evenly. Turn off the broiler and let the peppers sit in the oven an additional 10 minutes. Then, with tongs, place them in a zip-locking freezer bag or plastic container with tight lid. Seal the bag or lid, and wait a half hour or more for the steam to engage the peel. Grasp the peel next to one of the charred spots and pull it off.
In a pot, saute onions and chopped garlic until soft. Add vegetable stock and roasted bell peppers. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Fill a stand blender half full. Add the agave and herbs; blend until smooth. Taste the soup and add more herbs if desired.
Repeat blending until all soup is blended. Reheat soup and serve hot. Makes about 6 1-cup servings.
Nutrients per serving: 59 calories, 1 gram fat, 3 grams protein, 12 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram dietary fiber.
— The Biggest Loser Resort