A vibrant, full-flavoured soup, this is a great way to use a surplus of fresh peppers and tomatoes. And as much as I love more intricate cooking, simplicity often wins over.
I often freeze both peppers and tomatoes in the autumn once they have ripened and this soup also works well with the defrosted peppers and tomatoes.
Roasting the vegetables enhances the flavour of the soup no end and they give off a lot of precious juice that gets added to the soup. And that juice really does have an amazing flavour on its own.
The roasted vegetables also make great canapés: drain from their roasting juice, chop and put into small baked pastry cases, perhaps with a few chopped caper berries. Spoon over just a little roasting juice, and top with goat’s cheese and a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar*. Flash-grilling to caramelise the cheese before drizzling on the balsamic adds extra flavour and dimension.
*To reduce balsamic vinegar: put 100ml or so in a small pan, bring to the boil and then boil for about 5 minutes until syrupy – a teaspoon of honey can also be added during the reduction and I have been known to add some finely chopped fresh thyme.
Red Pepper Soup (serves 6)
- 6 large red peppers, halved and de-seeded
- 5 or 6 medium tomatoes or two large tomatoes, skinned and halved
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 large red onion, peeled and halved
- few tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1.5 litres good vegetable stock
- small handful fresh basil
- salt and freshly milled black pepper
- a few freshly snipped chives
- Preheat the oven to 190C. Put the peppers, tomatoes, garlic and half of the onion, roughly chopped, in a roasting pan with a small glug of oil. Add basil and seasoning and roast for about 45 minutes until the peppers have softened and their edges have just darkened.
- Finely chop the remaining onion. Heat a little oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the remaining onion. Cook gently for about 10 minutes. Add the roasted vegetables, and all of their juice, and cook gently for a few more minutes.
- Add the stock and bring to a simmer, simmering gently for about 10 minutes.
- Use a hand blender or liquidiser to puree the soup. The soup can be sieved if bits of pepper skin remain. Serve with a few chopped chives sprinkled over.