Monday, August 08, 2005

Cream of Roasted Bell Pepper Soup

I've become enamored of "cream of blank" vegetable soups recently, thanks once again to the council of Mark Bittman, Minimalist. Possibly the simplest and most Minimalist of soups, aside from a clear beef or miso broth. It's a great way to take advantage of good produce - the best of these soups has one strong flavor, perfect and vegetal.

I used this recipe to create my own version this evening.

Cream of Roasted Bell Pepper Soup

About 2 lbs. red, orange, or yellow bell peppers
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
3-4 medium shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T. fresh thyme leaves
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup half and half
2 t. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

1. Roast the peppers: heat the oven to 500 degrees. Seed, wash, and halve the bell peppers. Put cut side down on a roasting pan in one layer. Roast in oven 30 min., shaking the pan every 5 to 10 minutes, until skins are blistered and black. Put peppers straight into a bowl and cover with a plate. Cool 15-20 min. Peel off the skins over a bowl, saving the good juice. DO NOT RINSE PEPPERS (the black stuff adds a nice smoky flavor to the finished dish).

2. Saute shallots, garlic, and thyme in the olive oil for 3 minutes. Add peppers and broth; bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer 20 min.

3. Puree in blender in two batches. Add half and half and vinegar, and add a little extra broth to thin, if desired. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish w/ basil or thyme leaves.

This is simple but absolutely great. Worth the effort to roast the peppers.