Monday, December 27, 2010

Roasted Pepper Soup--Between Christmas and New Year

Some are still on vacation, but some need to go back to work. Having family visiting and kids home for almost two weeks, I really have had no time to write much. We are still eating Christmas leftovers and very little is cooking is needed these days. But I was thinking that an easy soup recipe can be appealing for those who need to cook something, especially in this cold weather. How about a roasted pepper soup?

Bell peppers are one of my favorite vegetables. They can be used to make almost any type of dish and they taste equally good all year round, as they are imported from parts of the world where they are in season. You can roast many bell peppers at once and use part of them to make this soup and later in the week you can use the rest of them to make some other dishes, such as pasta with roasted bell peppers, or marinate them in garlic, lemon, and olive oil to serve them as salad or a side dish.

I like to serve this soup with strips of fried prosciutto and sesame bread sticks.

Roasted Pepper Soup
Serves 4-6

3 red bell peppers, roasted,
3-4 shallots or 1 medium onion, chopped,
1 medium potato, cut into small cubes,
2 garlic cloves, minced,
2 celery sticks, cut,
3 slices prosciutto, cut in small strips,
3 tbsp olive oil,
1/2 cup table cream,
1/2 tsp red pepper,
salt and pepper to taste

1. Roast the peppers, cool them, and remove all the peel. Cut into smaller pieces. This step can be made ahead; roasted peppers can be stored in a refrigerator for up to three days. If you use an electric oven you can roast whole peppers or cut them in halves, remove the seeds and put the pepper halves skin up on a baking tin as close to the broil as possible. If you have a gas stove, you can stuck the whole pepper on a fork and roast it over the gas burner. Put the roasted peppers on a dish, cover them immediately with a lid, and keep them covered until they cool down. Then remove the blackened peel--the better roasted the pepper, the easier the peel will come off. Cut each pepper into quarters and then into stripes.

2. Heat one tbsp of oil in a saucepan, and fry prosciutto strips until crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside.
3. Add the remaining oil to the pan and cook shallot with garlic for about 5 minutes, until soft.
4. Add potato and celery and cook on a small heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until potatoes become transparent.
5. Put peppers into the saucepan and saute all the vegetables for about 3-5 minutes, season with paprika, salt, and pepper. Add water just so to cover all the vegetables, and cook until potatoes become soft.
6. Cool the soup a little bit and purée using electric a blender.
7. Add cream and mix gently with a large spoon.
8. Decorate with prosciutto strips on top.

Serve with Italian bread sticks or white French bread.