Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Red Pepper Soup

As I mentioned in the Joseph Ambler Inn's review, haute comfort food is a big recession trend right now. I have discovered my own fancy comfort food dish in a Red Pepper Soup with Orange Cream. The Red Pepper Soup has a very fancy presentation, but it has the warming soulfulness and easy construction of tomato soup making it perfect for a rainy or chilly evening at home, or as a first course at a fall or winter dinner party. As a first course it stands alone, but for a dinner it needs a little more food, so, in the spirit of a tomato soup, it pairs well with a grilled cheese sandwich.

I have recently discovered that there are cheeses being created that have ingredients mixed into them, like a cheddar with chives, which allows you to create a grilled cheese and not feel like you are five years old. Last week, with the first hint of a fall chill in the air I walked into Whole Foods and saw cheddar with smoked bacon on sale, and I knew what we were having for dinner.

I have decided to start including the recipes I use on the blog, instead of just linking to them. It makes for more one stop shopping. This is America for Pete's sake. I'd go to communist China if I wanted to spend all day clicking on links. I'm a busy modern woman. The links will still be included, however, if you would like to do further research. This one comes from Bon Appetit February 2006 issue.

Red Pepper Soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit


    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 2/3 cup sliced shallots (about 4)
    • 1 15-ounce jar roasted red peppers packed in water
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken or vegetable broth
    • 1/2 cup orange juice
    • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
    • 3/4 teaspoon grated orange peel
    • Thinly sliced fresh basil leaves


Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté 5 minutes. Add red peppers with their liquid. Stir in sugar; sauté 2 minutes. Add 2 cups broth and simmer 5 minutes. Cool soup slightly. Working in batches, puree soup in blender. Return soup to pan. Bring to simmer; stir in orange juice. Thin soup with additional broth, if desired. Season with salt and pepper.
Whisk whipping cream and orange peel in small bowl until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle orange cream over. Sprinkle with basil and serve.

What sucks is that step where you have to dump a batch of hot soup from pot to blender and then back again "working in batches" which means dirtying another bowl. This could be avoided with an immersion blender, which I own. I got one for my bridal shower. The problem is that the shower was in PA, and since I take the bus back and forth, I could not bring with me my many wonderful and rather large gifts. The next time Will's saint of a father drives up for a visit, he will bring me these wonderful things. For the moment I can only dream about them as I dump pots of soup into crappy blenders, sloshing the hot liquid over the side and screaming "God Dammit!" until Will comes and takes it away from me. Sigh.

The nice thing about the soup is it bends to slight adaptions. For instance, the soup calls for an orange, since the soup needs 1/2 cup of orange juice and orange zest goes in the cream. In a pinch, if you have orange juice in the fridge you can use that and skip the zest, you will lose a little something but it certainly wont ruin the dish. In my case I found Minneola Tangellos on sale and decided to play a bit. The purpose of the citrus juice is to offset the harshness of the peppers in a delightful way. If I have to offset something, I'd prefer it to be delightful. A Minneola is like a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine, and to be honest I found the flavor of the juice to be a little bright for the soup. With so many different types of orange type citrus though, it was nice to have a little room for creativity on the soup. The other substitution I made was half a yellow onion instead of shallots. I love shallots, and they have a much more sophisticated flavor, but I had forgotten to pick them up and I had half an onion hanging out in the fridge. If you were to have it for the dinner party, I would say be sure to get the shallots, it makes you look better. You don't want to look like some sort of crazy, oniony vagrant in front of your dinner guests, do you? But lets be honest, if you made this on a rainy weeknight as I suggest, would you be running back out to the store? The onions were a bit chunky, but worked just fine.

The other appeal to making this as a weeknight dinner is that it uses jarred peppers, which you can just buy and keep on hand. I'm a huge proponent of using fresh ingredients, but again, if it's Wednesday and raining I loves me a shortcut. Commenters on Epicurious say that you can use fresh roasted peppers, however, if you just got back from the farmers market and are feeling adventurous. I also love the excuse to go into the really nice Italian food store in Chelsea Market and buy something. What can I say, I'm a sucker for a well preserved Capsicum. That's right, look it up.

The picture on the website is very pretty, but not at all how mine looks. Perhaps a more precise pour is needed then just dribbling it out of a mixing bowl. But for an impressive dish that is easy to make an unintimidating to eat, this is my new go to. Now if I can just figure out how to dress up peanut butter and marshmallow fluff for a dinner party, I'll be all set.


CaptnRachel aka Tha Pizza Cutta said...

For this quote alone I love you, "This is America for Pete's sake. I'd go to communist China if I wanted to spend all day clicking on links." HAHAHAHA. Oh, and I hate processing soup in batches too, but yours looks fantastico!

Anonymous said...

Most of the time I'll use all the cooking shortcuts I can. And I'm proud to admit it. Your soup looks great btw.

CheapAppetite from foodbuzz

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