As I get older I develop a deeper love for soup. Few things can warm your soul, fulfill you, and dazzle your taste buds like a bowl of well-crafted soup. What many people do not realize is how easy soup can be, and today I have red pepper soup on my mind.
There is a foundation skill that is required here, roasting and peeling the peppers. I start with 6 red peppers and put them on a baking half sheet with a wire rack in my oven under the broiler. What will happen is that pepper skin will blacken and blister, at which point use your tongs to gently rotate them. It can take 15-20 minutes to get all of the sides of the peppers roasted to a nice black charred appearance.
Remove the peppers and put them in a mixing bowl and cover with plastic. You will notice that I’m using a nifty plastic cap to cover my peppers. When I would travel on business I would also make a point of snagging the disposable plastic shower caps from hotels. They are really useful in the kitchen for covering bowls and the ability to remove them and the reuse them is much better than plastic wrap, but not airtight. It was only much later that I realized I could buy these on Amazon in quantities of 100 for $6.
While the peppers are cooling, sauté one onion and when the onion is translucent, add 2 gloves of diced garlic. Add sage and thyme as the final stage and remove from heat. Set aside.
Let’s come back to the peppers. You can accelerate the cooling by putting them in the refrigerator, but you really want the peppers to cool down just for the sake of handling them. There are a couple of ways you can approach this process, and it really doesn’t matter because the end result is what matters, peeled peppers. I do this process over a bowl in order to catch the juices that are released as the peppers are pulled apart. The stem core will pull out of the whole pepper, just discard it. The charred skin will come off easily and I do like to set aside a small amount of the blackened pepper skin for use finishing the soup.
With the stem core pulled out and the skin removed, you can quickly rinse the peppers under running water to flush out any pepper seeds that are remaining. Lay the peppers on a cutting board and cut into strips. As you can see from my image, I’m not super particular about remaining seeds. They will neither add to nor detract from the final result. The small pile of black pepper skin is the charred skin that I retained while peeling the peppers.
This charred skin is a really nice addition to the final soup, adding some black flecks to increase the visual appeal.
Into the blender the peppers go, with 4 cups of chicken stock. Blend thoroughly and add cream or milk to finish. I like to serve this soup with a dollop of something in the middle, creme fraiche is ideal but today it was some oven roasted tomatoes. Drizzling with truffle olive oil is another welcome addition, this soup has the body to stand up to strong earthy flavors. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6 red peppers
4 cups chicken stock
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh sage
1/3-1/2 cup milk or cream (your preference will dictate how much)