09 February 2017

Spoonful of Love

The chilly weather called for some soup making today. I chose a new recipe I found online for Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup.
The recipe for this delicious soup, just right for Valentine's weekend, is an easy one to follow. I had all the ingredients on hand except the red peppers and tomatoes which I bought fresh at Global Foods Market. I chose to use Roma tomatoes and cherry tomatoes with happy bright red colors. What could be healthier, since these fruits are loaded with vitamin C.

I followed the recipe as written with just one exception. I added 1 T of butter when I sauteed the chopped onions and carrots--because I like butter. The peppers roasted in 30 mins. and the skins peeled off easily after they cooled inside a plastic bag. I also took the skins from the tomatoes after roasting them, though the recipe does not specify it needs to be done.

When everything is simmering in the pot, the anticipation is worth a picture.
Let all those flavors kiss each other (perfect for Valentine Soup) and "marry" as many cooks say. Pretty soon the aroma that fills the house cries out for world peace. Truly, it's zen-like. After 25 minutes simmering away, the veggies have softened enough to invite an immersion blender into to the pot.
These handheld blenders are marvelous tools. We've had ours for 25 years or more. As the pieces of peppers, tomato, onion, carrots, and spices get smaller and smaller the color changes into a gorgeous cadmium red mixed with gamboge. A master's palette of flavors all blending together to make a soup that warms the heart.

Here's the recipe I used and a link to the page where I found it.
·   3 red bell peppers
·   2 whole bulbs of garlic (skin left on)
·   1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
·   1 teaspoon garlic, minced
·   1 large yellow onion, diced
·   2 medium carrots, finely chopped
·   3 teaspoons Herbes de Provence (a fragrant southern Mediterranean mix of thyme, rosemary, marjoram and lavender)
·   1 teaspoon paprika
·   Cayenne pepper, pinch (to taste)
·   5-6 tomatoes (I used a combination of 5 medium/large tomatoes plus 1 cup of cherry tomatoes)
·   4 cups chicken stock
·   1 teaspoon salt
·   ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
·   ½ cup half-and-half (or fat-free half-and-half / creamer, depending on how healthy you want to go!)
1.      First, roast peppers and garlic. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place whole peppers on baking sheet lined with tin foil. Lightly drizzle olive oil over peppers. Next, prep garlic bulbs. Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a sharp knife, trim the stem end of the bulb by ¼ – ½″. Rub the cut side of the garlic with olive oil. Cover each bulb with aluminum foil. Add foil-covered bulbs to baking sheet with the peppers. Roast peppers and garlic together for 35-45 minutes or until peppers are starting to char and garlic is softened.
2.      Once out of the oven, set aside garlic bulbs to let cool. Place hot peppers into a large plastic bag and seal. Let rest for 15 minutes, then remove peel, seeds and stem (it will come right off!). Chop peppers. Reserve.
3.      Unwrap garlic from aluminum foil. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the roasted garlic out from the skins. Reserve.
4.      Next, roast tomatoes. Cut tomatoes in half or quarters (depending on how large they are) add add to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. If using cherry tomatoes, simply add them to the sheet without cutting. Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until tomatoes start to “burst.”
5.      In a large soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chopped onion and carrot. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
6.      Add herbes de Provence, paprika and a pinch of cayenne, cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chopped roasted peppers. Add all but 1 tablespoon of “squeezed” roasting garlic.
7.      Add stock and tomatoes. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Purée using an immersion blender or in small batches using a regular blender. Add half-and-half (or fat free half-and-half). Briefly reheat, then serve with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, if desired. This soup is wonderful with a side of crusty bread – use the reserved 1 tablespoon of roasted garlic to smear on bread just before serving.