Friday, May 18, 2012

Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup

There's something that happens to a bell pepper when you roast it that makes it super savory.  Roasted bell pepper can turn a simple burger or sandwich into a special treat.  I like to top goat cheese crostini with thin strips of roasted bell pepper for a festive canape or add chopped roasted bell peppers to scrambled eggs.

When the fresh pepper season starts to wane in the fall, I like to extend their season by roasting a bunch of peppers.  Then I remove the skins and seeds, pack them in a food storage container, and cover them with olive oil.  If they're completely covered with oil, they'll last a month or more in the fridge.

Today's recipe for roasted pepper soup can be made with most roasted peppers, but it's tastiest when made with yellow or red bell peppers.  If you've never roasted peppers before, it's easy; and there are several ways to do it.

I prefer the stove top method, but that requires a gas burner with a good flame.  You simply place the pepper right on the burner where the flame can char the skin of the pepper.  Using tongs, you turn the pepper as the skins chars until the pepper is entirely blackened.  If your burners are large enough, you might be able to roast more than one pepper on a single burner.  Otherwise, you can use several burners.

If you don't have a gas stove, you can roast peppers in a hot oven, about 400-450 degrees F.  Place the peppers on cookie sheet and roast, turning every 15 minutes, until charred, about 45 minutes total.  The skins might not blacken in the oven as much as they do on the stove top, but the peppers will roast just fine.

Another good way to roast peppers is on the grill.  If you're already firing up your grill, it isn't too much extra work to roast a few peppers.  And the grill will give them a little extra smoky flavor.  Since grill temperatures vary considerably, watch your peppers carefully and turn them as the skins char.  They're done when fully charred.

Whatever method you choose, wait until they cool to peel off the skins.  I like to put the peppers in a paper bag while they cool, but you can put them in a bowl if you prefer.  When cool, the skins will peel off easily.

The recipe below is for 1 large pepper which will make 2 servings.  You can double or triple this recipe if you wish.

Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup

1 large yellow pepper
1 t olive oil
1/4 small onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 rib celery, coarsely chopped
2/3 - 1 C vegetable stock or water
salt and pepper to taste
2 T cream, optional

1.  Roast the yellow pepper(s) using one of the methods described above.

2.  While the pepper(s) are cooling, heat the oil in a skillet and cook the chopped onion and celery until soft. Set aside.

3.  When the pepper(s) are cool enough to handle, peel away the charred skin and discard.  Remove and discard the seeds and the stem.

4.  Put the pepper(s), sauteed onion and celery in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth.

5.  Blend in the broth or water a little at a time until the soup reaches the desired consistency.

6.  Pour the soup into a saucepan and heat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in cream, if desired.  Garnish and serve.

This soup may be served cold instead of hot.  Be sure to season the soup with salt and pepper (and anything else you might like) at the end of Step 5.  Then refrigerate until ready to serve.

A blender works better for this recipe than a food processor.  You get a smoother consistency.

Today's bounty included:

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Purple garlic, purple scallion, red Russian kale, spicy mixed greens, romaine, Swiss chard, and rainbow chard;

From JR Organics:  Green cabbage;

From Jaime Farms:  Beets, yellow bell peppers, hot house on-the-vine tomatoes, basil, cilantro, and free-range eggs;

From Rancho Santa Cecilia:  Thai guava, avocados, and Golden Nugget mandarins.



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