Monday, April 7, 2008

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

During Saturday's house hunting adventure, DH and I stopped by a local farmers' market to check out the produce and ended up coming home with a large bag of red peppers. In our house, that means Roasted Red Pepper Soup is on the way. DH roasted them up for me on Sunday afternoon, and then I took over and made my soup.

I love this stuff. I first had it at a brew pub that has long since closed, but after the first time I tried it, I knew I had to make it myself. The chef would not part with the recipe, though he did tell me that Boursin cheese was an ingredient. (As it turns out, the Boursin is the key ingredient, after the peppers themselves). I set to work testing a variety of recipes and ended up with my current version, which I will post in just a minute. I knew I wanted a roasted red pepper soup with a creamy texture and nothing in the soup but peppers, onions and cheese. No tomatoes, no pasta, no croutons, no crab, nothing.

Granted, red peppers are expensive, especially when they're not in season. Our grocery store usually charges around $3.99 a lb for them, though I've seen them as cheap as $.99 a lb in the summer. Usually, though, we hit up the farmers' markets and buy a huge bag or basket of them. Roasting the peppers can be a lot of work, but DH doesn't seem to mind it. I've never used jarred roasted red peppers for this - I'm not sure I'd want to. If you do use the jarred peppers, make sure they're packed in water, as there is dairy in this recipe. (There was an incident in my past involving peppers packed in a vinegar solution and a cream sauce. It wasn't good). The ingredients are simple, and the soup comes together quickly

Cream of Red Pepper Soup
This recipe doubles or triples easily, but use your judgment on increasing the butter / olive oil

1 to 2 tbsp. butter or olive oil
2 cups chopped onion (I like sweet onions)
2 large cloves garlic, minced (or more to taste)
1 tsp. Salt (or to taste)
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. ground cumin, optional
5 medium red bell peppers, roasted and chopped
1 tbsp. unbleached white flour
1/2 cups stock or water
2 1/2 cups milk (low fat okay), room temperature or warmer
Boursin Cheese for garnish

Melt butter or heat oil in soup pot or Dutch oven. Add onions and garlic; cook slowly with salt, pepper and cumin. After about 5-8 minutes (when onions are clear and soft), add bell peppers. Stir and cover. Cook over low heat 10-15 minutes, stirring intermittently. Gradually sprinkle in flour. Cook, stirring, another 5 minutes. Add stock or water, stir, cover and cook 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Puree in food processor or blender, bit by bit, with milk. You can also use an immersible stick blender for this part. Put the pureed soup in a soup pot or double boiler. (Optional: you may strain the soup to get a smoother texture.) Heat very gently. Serve topped with sour cream and minced herbs, if desired. Makes 4-6 servings.

I've made this soup so many times that the recipe is a very basic guideline for me. Feel free to play around with it to your tastes, but here are some suggestions and changes that I've worked out along the way. I always use at least 5 POUNDS of peppers, which about triples the recipe, but only double the onions and cumin. I wash, quarter and core the peppers, then flatten them out with the palm of my hand on a foil covered baking sheet, and roast them in the oven. (A little cooking spray on the foil is very helpful). Once the skins are burned black, I put the peppers in ice water and the skin comes right off. Then I chop the peppers and add them to the cooked onions.

I use a combination of beef and chicken stock (bouillon), using a little more chicken than beef. I tried using cream instead of milk - too greasy. But whole milk works well, as does the low fat or skim if necessary. I usually use 2% as that's what we buy. You may want to add more or less liquid depending on the amount of onions and peppers you use. Absolutely strain the soup - makes for a much nicer texture. The Boursin really adds to the soup. I drop about a teaspoon-sized chunk into the soup bowls, pour the hot soup on top and garnish with a few more crumbles. The cheese will melt and stir into the soup.


Dianne said...

Oh I so much prefer red peppers to the immature green! We grow some peppers and hardly have any that turn red, as my husband loves the green so much. I've never had red pepper soup, but I'm intrigued now! It must be great to have a helper in the kitchen. : )

Kim B said...

Oh I must try this! Thank you for the recipe!

Ruth said...

Oh, yum. dang! Now you made me drool on the keyboard!!!!

Pumpkin said...

Unfortunately peppers do not sit well with me but I LOVE Boursin cheese :o) Oh YUMMY!

Stephanie said...

Mmmm, this sounds yummy, I'm definitely going to give this a try. Hope the house hunting is going better?

Kathy A. said...

Oh that sounds yummy. Will have to try it. I am a big fan of red pepper and make my own red pepper jelly

Barbara said...

We also love roasted red pepper soup! :D

Patty said...

This sounds really good!

Lynn said...

I look forward to trying your recipe this summer when our local red peppers are in season. I have tried one other recipe that called for the jarred peppers but didn't like the texture so much.

monique said...

I've never even heard of Boursin cheese! The soup sounds yummy :)