Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Recipe: Red Pepper Soup

After posting this initially with just instructions (and after a recent reminder of how essential clear directions are – I’m looking at you, IKEA) I thought it may be helpful to go back and give some additional information and tips for the recipe.
This is an original recipe of mine and I have tried lots of different variations and landed on this version as the best. It’s like a tomato soup in the way that so much of its appeal is in the simplicity. I’ve spiced it, used roasted peppers, tried different bases, and each time I am highly disappointed I’m not eating this version.
One nice way to vary it is how much you blend your peppers. Well blended peppers will produce a finer, saucier soup while less blending will leave the peppers a bit chunky. If you’re looking for your peppers to be liquefied, I’d recommend using an immersion blender. I prefer the latter and sometimes take the chunky texture a bit further by leaving one pepper out of the food processor, chopping it into bite-sized pieces separately and adding the pieces to the stock when the other peppers go in.
A note about the main ingredient: Buying red peppers at the grocery store is highway robbery. Two dollars for a pepper? Are you kidding me? And there’s no negotiating with the produce guy for a cheaper price. I have a feeling this is the first of many “The farmers’ market is the best thing since sliced bread” rants, but it is so true in this case. I can usually get a good, fresh red pepper at the market for 75 cents. For those keeping score at home, that’s roughly a 63% discount from the grocery store. My recommendation? Get to the market, pick the reddest, biggest, most beautiful peppers you can get your hands on, take them home, turn them into pepper pulp and freeze it. So on that January evening when you’re thinking “Man, I would die for a bowl of red pepper soup right now, but it’s so not worth braving the elements to go buy overpriced, mediocre-at-best peppers to make it with” (…just wait, those exact words will cross your mind) you’ll have the perfect solution already in your freezer. Take advantage of both the bounty of the season and the wonder that is modern refrigeration.
And with that, please do enjoy this soup. It’s one of my absolute favorites and I hope it will earn your admiration as well.
4-5 large red bell peppers
4 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
2 tbsp. sherry
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1. Quarter the peppers, removing the stem and seeds, and blend in a food processor until pureed (mixture will be slightly chunky).
2. Place butter in a stockpot over medium heat. When melted, whisk in the flour one tablespoon at a time to create a roux.
3. When the roux is golden brown, whisk in vegetable stock, milk, and sherry. Stir in pepper puree and add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Serve topped with freshly chopped parsley.

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