About this recipe: Sweet red peppers and passata make a beautiful red soup that is sophisticated yet simple to prepare. Swirled with crème fraîche and accompanied by hot pesto bread, it makes a splendid special-occasion starter. For a mid-week supper, garnish the soup with fresh herbs instead of crème fraîche and serve with wholemeal bread.
Plain low-fat yogurt or fromage frais can be used instead of crème fraîche. * For a spicy version, add 1 seeded and finely chopped fresh red chilli with the onion, or a dash of Tabasco or other chilli sauce with the final seasoning. * For a tomato and carrot soup, use 675 g (1½ lb) diced carrots instead of the red peppers. After the stock is added, cover the pan and simmer the carrots for 10 minutes or until they are tender. Finish as in the main recipe, omitting the sugar. * Add 450 g (1 lb) coarsely chopped leeks and 4 sliced celery sticks with the onion instead of the red peppers. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the leeks are softened before adding the stock. Purée the soup and finish as in the main recipe, omitting the sugar.
Red peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C – weight for weight they contain over twice as much vitamin C as oranges. They also provide good amounts of carotenoids and bioflavonoids – both antioxidants that help to protect against heart disease and cancer. * Tomatoes contain lycopene, a carotenoid compound and a valuable antioxidant that is thought to help protect against prostate cancer. Lycopene is enhanced by cooking and so is most readily available in processed tomato products, such as canned tomatoes, tomato purée and passata.
Excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C. Good source of folate, vitamin B1. Useful source of niacin.