August 15, 2009

Orzo and harissa tomato weekend soup

When I lived in a much bigger apartment with a much bigger kitchen in Queens, I used to cook... a lot. I made all my own bread from scratch, fried chicken, slow-cooked stews, you name it. I even bought a hand-crank pasta maker and used it. Ever since I moved into my Manhattan apartment four years ago, I've done way less in the kitchen -- my vast collection of cookbooks (Nigel Slater is my favorite) are languishing on my bookshelf -- mostly because my kitchen is tiny (tiny cooking range, tiny oven, tiny countertop) and also because I don't have an extractor fan. Something about this building means you can't extract cooking fumes anywhere, I didn't understand what the explanation was, I just know I was denied. Lately, I've been trying to make more simple things at home -- simple, one- or two-pot meals for one person that are less expensive and healthier than takeout.

Now, I'm no chef. Let me emphasize that. I'm no chef. But I do love to eat. I love the flavor and texture of food, I love eating with friends, I love eating alone. And, to honest, left to my own devices (and probably if I didn't work in media), I'd probably eat myself silly (to death, even!). So the point is I like simple food that has strong flavors and feel-good textures.

Lately I've been obsessed with Orzo -- it's like rice, but not! And I opened a jar of Alili Harissa last week and haven't stopped using it since. So this weekend, instead of the orzo-and-vegetables I ate last weekend (healthier), I cooked half a packet of Orzo, mixed it with a couple of pats of butter, one can of Campbell's Healthy-Choice tomato soup, and a bit of the pasta cooking water. I seasoned it with a half tablespoon of harissa, two shakes of nutmeg and some crushed oregano leaves. And it's a cheap and cheerful lunch for one!

... and there's a pan of gluten-free brownies cooling in the kitchen for dessert...

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