Even though there is still no snow on the ground where I live, I know that winter is right around the corner. Meaning that the upcoming weeks mark my favorite time to cook hearty, warm, satisfying dishes. One of which is soup. So.... I to bring on the heat, I decided to spice things up (literally) and put a spin on my favorite: Red Pepper and Tomato.
I love anything with the warmth, acidity and colors of these two vegetables. But I get bored easily and if I prepare something the usual way, I always catch myself comparing what I made to the best I've had (which can leave me less than happy). It is my promise to you that you will do neither of these things nor will you get bored with the pureed soup (which I'm also tend to do). This is because the sweet and smoked flavor of paprika will heat your palate in ways that few North American dishes do. You will then be cooled and refreshed with the Crème fraîche (sour cream, yogurt or other) and the Cilantro Chimichurri. This is one of the most unique dishes I've ever made so bon appetit!
Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Smoked Paprika
- 3 red bell peppers (1 1/2 lb. total) stemmed, seeded, and halved
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 can (28 oz) whole or diced canned tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon paprika such as *Pimentón de La Vera
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar OR 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- Topping: Crème fraîche, sour cream or plain yogurt AND Chimichiri (see below)
Preheat the broiler. Place the red pepper halves, cut side down, in a baking pan and broil 4 to 5 inches from heat until the skins are black and blistered, about 8 minutes. Let cool, uncovered, 10 to 15 minutes. Peel the peppers and place in a bowl, reserving any juices.
In a 3- to 4-quart pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and the onion; stir often until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the roasted peppers and tomatoes, along with their juices, and the paprika. Bring to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.
In a blender, food processor, or with a heavy duty hand mixer, purée the soup in small batches until smooth. Return purée to the pan and stir in balsamic vinegar or lemon juice. Stir over medium heat until hot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into cups or bowls and garnish with a dollop of crème fraîche and Chimichurri
* Pimentón de La Vera is a Spanish paprika that adds a smoky, sweet intensity, but Hungarian or regular paprika work too.
My mother introduced me to Chimichurri this summer when she brought it home from a local farmer's market. I think of the Argentinian meat condiment as a glorified cilantro pesto- it is bright, fresh, and tart with the slightest touch of heat. This "sauce" is so delicious I could (and have) eaten it by itself. It can be used on top of meat, soups, salads or a tasty addition to bread and crackers.
- 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 garlic gloves or 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon grated lime grind
- 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 to 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper
Combine parsley, cilantro and garlic in food processor and process until finely chopped. Add lime rind and the remaining ingredients. Process until ingredients are finely chopped and well combined. 3) Scrap sides and mix in with remainder by hand. Taste and fine tune (add more oil, lime juice etc to taste). Enjoy!
*For the best flavor use the freshest herbs available and try to stick to mostly the leaves.