Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Chilled Red Pepper Soup

So there I was recently--in my kitchen and trying to decide what to cook for dinner.  Oftentimes my taste for something will steer me right away, but on this occasion it wasn't happening.  So I did what any card-carrying food lover would do next--I reached for my sources of inspiration, specifically my Ottolenghi cookbook.  I hadn't cooked from it yet, so I decided that it was time that I finally break it in.

As soon as I could tear myself away from all the glorious dessert recipes (that's honestly what drew me in most when I considered buying this book), I stumbled upon a perfect, warm weather recipe--a chilled version of Red Pepper Soup.

 I'm quite the fan of Red Pepper Soup and my usual preparation, until now, had been a warm, roasted red pepper version.  But hey, it's Spring and the temperatures are rising, so a chilled fresh red pepper version sounded like the refreshing fare I especially crave this time of the year.

Peppers, herbs, aromatics, spices and seasonings combine for a beautiful puree accented with the texture of fresh vegetables stirred in at the end.  Finished off with a garnish of more fresh herbs--and my special addition of a scrumptious, flaky puff pastry crouton--rounded out this simple, yet satisfying, soup.

Happy Eating!

Chilled Red Pepper Soup
Recipe adapted from Ottolenghi The Cookbook

1 large onion
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 sage leaves, finely chopped
4 large red peppers
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
Fresh basil leaves, chopped
Fresh parsley, chopped
Puff pastry dough
1 egg

Peel the onion and chop it coarsely.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and sage and saute over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent.

While the onion is cooking, halve the peppers lengthwise.  Take a pepper half, remove the seeds and white flesh, and cut it into 2/3-inch/1.5 cm dice.  Set aside.

Remove the sees from the rest of the peppers, coarsely chop them, and stir into the saucepan with the onions.  Add the salt, bay leaves, cumin, sugar and red pepper flakes.  Saute for another 5 minutes.  Add the stock and bring it to a gentle simmer.  Cover the pot and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes.

Once the peppers are soft, remove the bay leaves from the soup.  While still hot, use a regular blender or an immersion blender to puree the soup until it is totally smooth.  Leave to cool down a little.

Once the soup is just warm, stir in the diced red pepper, lemon zest, and garlic.  Leave until it becomes room temperature and then refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.  Remove soup from the fridge half an hour before serving.  Stir well, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Sprinkle over a generous amount of chopped basil and parsley and top with a crouton.  Serve and enjoy!

Flaky Croutons
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Roll out, thawed (but chilled) dough on a lightly floured surface.  Use a biscuit or cookie cutter for desired shape and cut dough into individual croutons.  

Place dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and using a fork, prick holes into the dough.  Brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake in oven until golden brown on top, about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven, serve and enjoy! 


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