Last week at Smaha’s Legion Square Market, there were a bunch of red peppers marked down for quick sale. 39¢ for three red peppers is simply too good to pass up. I had grand plans of grilled sausage subs with peppers and onions but as fate would have it, I never got around to them and my bargain peppers needed some culinary loving.
I roasted the peppers and planned to use them on sandwiches or perhaps a pizza, then I remembered Meatless Monday was approaching and that I did not have a plan. A quick online search and dinner was found.
Interestingly enough, it is a recipe written by one of my most favorite food writers, Martha Rose Shulman. With 20 books to her credit, Shulman is a is certainly a skilled professional. My cherished copy of Provencal Light is vinegar stained, fanatically dog-eared and very worn after its 16 years of use.
Many of Shulman’s recipes could be called light done right. She has mastered the art of reducing fat in a recipe while keeping flavors bright and textures correct. I have never been disappointed by one of her recipes, this soup is no exception.
With a base of sauteed veggies and just the right amount of simple seasonings, this soup was the perfect vessel for my roasted peppers. The starchy russets give this soup its heft and illusion of richness. I am happy to report that Marco asked for seconds and as I handed him bowl #2, I smirkingly declared “It’s vegetarian!”
I purposefully had garnished his bowl with sour cream and cilantro (sour cream is a deal sealer with Marco) while my bowl was accented with tapenade and fresh basil. The original recipe was finished with crispy garlic croutons and fresh herbs. Simple goat cheese crostinis would also make a lovely garnish.
This soup is quite easy to prepare, can be made a day ahead and reheated. It also freezes well for a future dinner.
Roasted Red Pepper and Potato Soup adapted from the NY Times.
Serves 4 – 6, as a main course.
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus a drizzle for serving
1 med.onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt, more to taste
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
(or 1 tsp. smoked paprika and 1 tsp. sweet paprika)
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cups chopped roasted red peppers (homemade or jarred)
1 lb. russet potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and diced
2 quarts vegetable stock
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup Prepared Black Olive Tapenade and 2 Tbsp. Thinly Sliced Basil
1/3 cup Sour Cream and 2 Tbsp. Finely Chopped Cilantro
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot, and add the onion and carrot. Cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften, and then add salt, pepper and paprika. Continue to cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and tomato paste. Stir for a minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant and the tomato paste has darkened. Add the peppers, potatoes, stock, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for for one hour. Remove the bay leaf.
Turn off heat and blend the soup until smooth in an immersion blender. Heat soup again to a simmer before serving. If using, top with desired garnishes.
FMI on Meatless Monday click here.