Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Nothing is as warming as spicy, freshly-made, home-made soup. Nope, not even that hot-water bottle. Not even that fluffy onesie.

You can use Romano peppers or regular red capiscums (bell peppers) for this recipe. See the footnotes for chilli and orange options. Omit all butter/cream/yoghurt for a hearty and delicious vegan meal.

Serves: 8+

Ingredients

  • 700g red peppers
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 40g butter (one large knob – omit for vegan)
  • Dash of vegetable oil
  • 1 large brown onion, roughly chopped
  • 400g tomatoes, chopped into quarters (tinned are fine)
  • 500ml good-quality chicken stock (or vegetable stock to keep it vegetarian/vegan)
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme, thicker stalks removed, and chopped; or, 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, stalk removed, and chopped; or, 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil, chopped; or, 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • Glug of red wine, sherry, or balsamic vinegar (up to 1/3 of a teacup)
  • 2 tablespoons soured cream, creme fraiche, or yoghurt (plus additional to serve) – omit for vegan

Kit

  • A baking tray, lined with tin foil
  • One large, heavy-bottomed pot, no lid needed (but you may want a splatter guard)
  • Food processor, or stick blender

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C (180 C fan-assisted).
  2. Remove the stalks, de-seed, and quarter the red peppers (or, halve Romanos lengthwise). Place on the lined tray with the garlic, and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper over all of them.
    RoastedRedPeppers
  3. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until the peppers have softened but are still a bit firmer than al dente. Remove from the oven.
  4. While the peppers are roasting, heat the butter and veg oil in a pot on the hob. Add the chopped onion and cook at low heat until softened and very lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir regularly.
  5. Add the roasted peppers (ripped/chopped into smaller pieces) and garlic to the pot, plus the tomatoes, stock, herbs, and vinegar. Whack the heat up to high, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, until the pepper pieces are very soft, stirring every 5 minutes or so.
  6. Transfer the soup to a food processor and blitz until very smooth. Alternatively, use a stick blender in the pot (with the heat off). Add 2 Tbsp cream, and pulse/blitz until fully combined. Taste, and add more salt, ground pepper, and/or herbs to your liking.
  7. To serve, ladle into bowls. Using a large spoon, dip out some cream, and swirl the spoon into the centre of each serving (not necessary for vegan). Sprinkle over some more herbs if you like.

Chillies
I’m quite a fan of adding a red chilli or two to the roasting pan with the peppers and garlic. Roasting the chillies mellows and softens their heat, so you can get away with adding up to 4 (de-seeded or not, to your taste). The recipe picture includes a hefty dollop of home-made chilli jam, which I’d made with 15 chillies – instead of the recommended 6 – so it’s terrifically hot but sweet at the same time. If you add chilli jam, I wouldn’t use balsamic vinegar, as it’s also very sweet.

Additional Serving Suggestions
Winter brings us clementines in abundance. Orange and peppers are a great combination, and a light squeeze of fresh juice over each bowl (before swirling in the cream) brings out the flavour of the peppers really well. This also brings a nicely sweet counterpoint to the garlic (and especially, to the chillies if using) in the recipe.

You can also reserve a small amount of roasted pepper; slice thinly, and place on top of each serving.

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