There is nothing more delicious and satisfying in all the world than a good bowl of well-balanced soup on a dark winter's night. I'm talking about the kind that is soft and velvety, topped with cheese, cream or fresh herbs. The kind that contains so many varieties of vegetables that you don't need a side salad to finish off your meal. The kind that invites hunks of rustic bread to dip into its rich, spicy-sweet texture.
This kind of soup deserves a poetry slam. And I have just the one that fits the bill: roasted red pepper soup. Roast your own peppers and use plenty of spices. Serve with those big soup spoons. Enjoy leftovers over noodles or whole wheat rice, or simply in a side bowl with a big salad. Soups are so incredibly versatile; in winter, they can be a kind of survival guide. Knowing how to make a good, silky vegetable-based soup can be a cure-all for that slow weeknight or even weekend lunch. Carrot gives the soup an orangey softness, while potato lends that essential starchy texture that every good velvet soup needs. Try this soup with plenty of garlic, different varieties of root vegetables, or even more roasted red peppers if desired.
Roasted Red Pepper Soup
2 red bell peppers plus small sweet peppers, if desired
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
6-7 baby carrots, chopped
1/2 potato, diced
2 teaspoons herbs de provence
1/2 teaspoon (or more) red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon sour cream
Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
Italian parsley, for garnish
First, roast the peppers. Preheat oven to 400 F and cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Slice red peppers in half, remove stems and stray seeds and place cut-side down on foil. Roast in hot oven for about 25 minutes, until pepper skins are almost completely black. Check on peppers frequently during the roasting to make sure that they are all getting even heat. (If using small sweet peppers, these will soften and roast much quicker.)
Once the peppers are out of the oven, place immediately in a bowl and cover it with a cutting board or a plate. This lets the delicious peppery steam permeate in that little space between the pepper skin and pepper flesh. Let sit for at least 10 minutes, then the skin should slide off easily. Set skinless peppers aside while you work on the soup.
Heat oil in a large stockpot until shimmering and fluid. Add diced onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic, carrots, potato, and spices and cook until just heated through, about 1 minute. Add chicken broth and roasted peppers and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until vegetables are completely soft and mash-able. (Technical cooking term.)
Once the soup is cooked through, blend with immersion blender until soup reaches desired thickness. I love these roasted soups very thick and velvety, so I tend to blend until no chunks are left. Add sour cream and plenty of salt and freshly ground pepper to finished soup.