Golden Pepper and Tomato Soup

1 lb tomatoes
1/3 c. white rice
1 medium yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
3 yellow or orange bell peppers
2T extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch saffron
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs, leaves plucked from stems
1t sweet paprika
1T tomato paste
1qt vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Garnish: Silvered opal basil, green basil, marjoram, parsley

1. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Silce an X at the base of each tomato. Pluge them 2 at a time, into the water for about 10 seconds, then remove and set aside. Add the rice and ½ teaspoon salt water 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. Heat 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. Stew for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes, their juice, and the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.

4. 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 fine slivers of herbs.

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