Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Soup

    Nothing is as warming as spicy, freshly-made, home-made soup. You can use Romano peppers or regular red capiscums (bell peppers) for this recipe. See the Tips for chilli and orange options. The recipe as written is vegetarian; omit all butter/cream/yoghurt for a hearty & delicious vegan meal. Serves 8 (but it's easily halved).

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    Ingredients

    • 700g red peppers
    • 6 garlic cloves
    • Olive oil, for drizzling
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • 40g butter (one large knob – omit for vegan)
    • Dash of vegetable oil
    • 1 large brown onion, roughly chopped
    • 400g tomatoes, chopped into quarters (tinned are fine)
    • 500ml good-quality chicken stock (or vegetable stock to keep it vegetarian/vegan)
    • 1 small bunch fresh thyme, thicker stalks removed, and chopped; or, 1 tablespoon dried thyme
    • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, stalk removed, and chopped; or, 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
    • 1 small bunch fresh basil, chopped; or, 1 tablespoon dried basil
    • Glug of red wine, sherry, or balsamic vinegar (up to 1/3 of a teacup)
    • 2 tablespoons soured cream, creme fraiche, or yoghurt (plus additional to serve) – omit for vegan

    Method

    1. Preheat oven to 200 C (180 C fan-assisted).
    2. Remove the stalks, de-seed, and quarter the red peppers (or, halve Romanos lengthwise). Place on the lined tray with the garlic, and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper over all of them.
    3. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until the peppers have softened but are still a bit firmer than al dente. Remove from the oven.
    4. While the peppers are roasting, heat the butter and veg oil in a pot on the hob. Add the chopped onion and cook at low heat until softened and very lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir regularly.
    5. Add the roasted peppers (ripped/chopped into smaller pieces) and garlic to the pot, plus the tomatoes, stock, herbs, and vinegar. Whack the heat up to high, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, until the pepper pieces are very soft, stirring every 5 minutes or so.
    6. Transfer the soup to a food processor and blitz until very smooth. Alternatively, use an immersion blender in the pot (with the heat off). Add 2 Tbsp cream, and pulse/blitz until fully combined. Taste, and add more salt, ground pepper, and/or herbs to your liking.
    7. To serve, ladle into bowls. Using a large spoon, dip out some cream, and swirl the spoon into the centre of each serving (not necessary for vegan). Sprinkle over some more herbs if you like.

    Tip

    *Adding Chillies:* I’m quite a fan of adding a red chilli or two to the roasting pan with the peppers and garlic. Roasting the chillies mellows and softens their heat, so you can get away with adding up to 4 (de-seeded or not, to your taste). The recipe picture includes a hefty dollop of home-made chilli jam, which I’d made with 15 chillies – instead of the recommended 6 – so it’s terrifically hot but sweet at the same time. (If you add chilli jam, I'd use other than balsamic vinegar, as it’s also very sweet.) *Additional Serving Suggestions:* Winter brings us clementines in abundance. Orange and peppers are a great combination, and a light squeeze of fresh juice over each bowl (before swirling in the cream) brings out the flavour of the peppers really well. This also brings a nicely sweet counterpoint to the garlic (and especially, to the chillies if using) in the recipe. You can also reserve a small amount of roasted pepper; slice thinly, and place on top of each serving.

    See it on my blog

    This recipe in more detail, and more recipes, are here on my blog

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