Coconut milk's rich flavor will keep you coming back for more of this substantial soup. A true Brazilian version would include slices of okra, but ours is already so satisfyingly thick that we left it out.
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup long-grain rice
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (from one 15-ounce can)
5 cups water
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and cut in half horizontally
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
How to Make It
In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 10 minutes.
Add the rice, red-pepper flakes, salt, tomatoes, and water to the pot. Bring to a boil and cook until the rice is almost tender, about 10 minutes.
Stir the coconut milk into the soup. Bring back to a simmer and then stir in the shrimp. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are just done, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the black pepper, lemon juice, and parsley.
Variation: Instead of the shrimp, use one pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about three), cut crosswise into quarter-inch strips. Cook for the same amount of time.
Wine Recommendation: The sweet elements here call for a somewhat assertive sweetness in the wine as well. A Vouvray demi-sec, from France's Loire Valley, ought to strike just the right balance.