Lycopene is part of the carotenoid family and gives tomatoes, bell peppers, watermelon and other red vegetables and fruits their color. It's much heralded for its antioxidant properties in the body, meaning it can search for and stabilize damaging free radicals. The body best absorbs lycopene when combined with a little fat, so toss fresh tomatoes with olive oil or add grated Parmesan to your spaghetti with tomato sauce. Betalain is also one of nature's red pigments and is found primarily in red beets and red Swiss chard. Studies have indicated that it also has antioxidant properties and suggest that betalain is better absorbed when paired with vitamin C (the red bell pepper in this soup will help on that front).
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 sun-dried tomatoes, plus 1 tablespoon finely diced
- Large pinch hot paprika
- 1/2 cup jarred sliced pickled beets, plus 1/3 cup pickled beet juice
- 1/2 cup drained roasted red peppers, plus 1 tablespoon finely diced
- 1 small clove garlic
- Kosher salt
- 1 medium ripe tomato, chopped
- Store-bought beet chips, for garnish, optional
- Sour cream or yogurt, for garnish, optional
Combine the oil, sun-dried tomatoes and paprika in a small skillet. Bring to a low simmer over medium-low heat and swirl until the tomatoes soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
Combine the sun-dried tomatoes and oil with the beets and beet juice, peppers, garlic and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld. Puree in a blender with 1 cup cold water until very smooth. Transfer to a bowl or large liquid measuring cup and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
Divide the soup evenly among four bowls. Sprinkle the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and peppers in each bowl. Garnish with beets chips and a dollop of sour cream, if using.
Per serving (1 cup): Calories 140; Fat 11 g (Saturated 1.5 g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 570 mg; Carbohydrate 10 g; Protein 1 g; Fiber 1 g; Sugar 7 g