Thursday, January 11, 2007

Roasted red pepper soup recipe (explicit version)

If you've gone to my older post to try my simple roasted red pepper soup recipe, I hope you've found the recipe super-easy and the soup really out of this world. If not, here's a more explicit version of the recipe so you can't go wrong. But you must follow this as precisely as possible. Some friends who have tasted my soup went to my blog and achieved a less than stellar result when they followed their own roasting process -- sorry, it's not the same any other way than mine. Not sure why. Probably because the flesh of the pepper is in contact with the pan and gets charred, not just the skins. More caramelization is a good thing. Means more flavor intensity.

Roasted red pepper soup (serves only 3 -- multiply recipe as necessary)

4 red bell peppers
4 tablespoons of extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil
1.5-1.75 cups of chicken stock (I used Maggi bouillon cubes, this one named "poule au pot")
1-2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground pepper (please don't use pre-ground pepper, I beg you)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Cover a large cookie sheet or roasting pan with aluminum foil. Cut open red peppers and remove rib (white stuff inside) and seeds. Slice into approximately 1/3-inch strips. Throw into a medium-sized bowl, add olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss evenly. Spread pepper slices evenly on sheet or pan (try to have only one layer). Place in oven, middle rack, and leave for about 40 minutes, until completely wilted and some caramelizing, followed by charring, has occurred (the peppers should be slightly blackened on the edges and where they're sticking a little bit to the pan). It is important that the peppers be as limp as wet noodles and about half to three-quarters the size of when they started out. Check for limpness at 30 minutes and shift around. Keep an even layer (If you multiply this recipe, you'll find you'll have to roast in batches -- only about 4 peppers will fit in a small oven like mine without too much overlap in the peppers.)

Heat up stock in small saucepan (you can do this while the peppers are cooking). In about three small batches, remove peppers from pan and puree in a blender. After each batch, pour into soup pot. Whisk in the hot chicken stock, about a half cup at a time. Be conservative. The worst thing is to add too much. Check for desired consistency by letting it fall off a wooden spoon and by tasting. This is NOT a thin, watery soup, but it shouldn't be too thick and paste-y either. If you add too much, like I did one time, you can correct it by bringing it to a boil and evaporating the extra liquid at a simmer.

And actually, if you simmer the soup for half an hour to an hour, the little pieces of skin soften so much they are no longer noticeable. So, simmer if you have the time and want a more evenly textured soup.

You should always taste your soup at different stages to see if it's necessary to add more salt or pepper. If I could lend you my tongue, I would (don't take that the wrong way).

If you want to be fancy, after spooning into bowls, add a few drops of olive oil in the center and a bit of very finely chopped chives (the common ones which are fine and tubular -- not garlic chives which are flat and wider).

Hope you find some success with this recipe. Please let me know how it goes for you.

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