Despite the fact that today was the first day with no snow on the ground and despite the fact that today’s temperatures were in the upper 50s (upper 50s, I tell you!!), I still felt like making soup this afternoon.  And not just  any soup — I wanted something with a little body to it as well as a little hit of spice.

Not to mention, I also had about a half dozen red peppers that needed to find a home (I bought them with every intention of making a batch of chilli jelly over the holidays, but just never found the time to make it … not to worry, I’ll make a festive bright red batch for Valentine’s Day).  I looked through my recipes for red pepper soup and they all seemed to lean towards the sweet side – which, let’s be honest, after a couple of weeks of cakes, pies, cookies and chocolate, didn’t really appeal.  So, I added a little fire and came up with this:

Red Pepper Soup … with a kick

  • a few Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 red peppers – 5 of them seeded and cut into strips, the last one left whole
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 3/4 tsp whole cumin
  • 3/4 tsp whole coriander
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • heaping Tbsp creme fraiche
  • handful cilantro
  • juice of a lime
  • 2 Tbsp garlic oil

Grind the cumin and coriander.  Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat then add the cumin, coriander and chilli powder and stir until fragrant.  Add the onion, carrot, parsnips, chilli pepper and garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes until they start to soften.  Add the pepper strips and the chicken stock and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and cover, cooking for 20 minutes until everything is soft. 

While that is cooking, roast the last red pepper over a gas flame until the skin is thoroughly blackened, then place in a zippy bag to sweat for 10 minutes.  Once this is done, rub off the skin (do not rinse under a running water – you wash away the flavor!), remove the stem and seeds and place in a blender or in a tumbler for a blender stick.  Add the garlic oil, cilantro, lime and creme fraiche and puree until smooth then check for seasoning. 

Serve the soup with a swirl of the roast pepper-cilantro puree.

... little bit of sweet ... little bit of heat ...