Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
A few weeks ago, in the midst of the other dinner extravaganzas, I had another one with my Food Group girlfriends. This is an ever evolving group of girls that get together to talk about food, wine, love, jobs, traveling...all the topics of interest for girls in their 30s and 40s. The core of our group is that we have a common love of food and either already work in the field, or have a desire to and try to help each other out with ideas.
We can always count on a having extremely tasty food when we get together. I wanted to experiment with a Cooking Light recipe...Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup. I am not usually one to serve soups at dinner parties, but thought since it was at my house, I could dirty up as many pots, pans and dishes as needed. So R, S, D, K and I gathered around the table...
As you can see, a common theme of my parties is using un-matching dishes that complement each other some way. It adds a level of comfort to the setting. I had tons of leftover mint from the Indian feast the week before and parsley from the soup recipe. So I made a yogurt dip with mint, parsley, lime juice and lots of pepper. It was a spicy start to the evening. As the guests all trickled in, the table quickly filled with wine, kale salad, Caprese skewers, mushroom risotto (made in a pressure cooker). I mean, can it get any better than this? Yes it can...we finished the night off with fresh berries and shortcake hydrated with a heavy pour of port.
So next time you have friends over for dinner, you can really outdo yourself by making this recipe. It has so many different dimensions that come together to make a warming start to the rest of your evening. It goes really well with a glass of red wine too...but then again, what doesn't?
Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
Adapted from Cooking Light August 2011
Yields 4-6 servings
This is one of those soup that surprises you with every sip. The combination of the roasted red pepper with the toasted chickpeas and almonds and fresh parsley weaves itself together for a thoroughly satisfying starter. The original recipe calls for smoked paprika, which I didn't have, so I used a smoked red chili powder. It also calls for adding ham to the chickpeas while roasting. I had vegetarian guests, so didn't do this part, but it sounds like a nice salty dimension.
1 red bell pepper, cut in half and de-seeded
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
8 cloves garlic, peeled and divided (3 diced and keep 5 whole)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes, no salt added with or without basil added
1/2 tsp smoked paprika or smoked chili powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp chopped almonds, toasted
Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. Place the red pepper, skin side up, on the sheet. Broil until blackened. (Depending on your broiler, can take 8-15 minutes.) Remove from oven and put the hot red pepper in a plastic bag and seal. Set aside to let it steam in the bag. After about 10 minutes, remove from bag to easily peel the blackened skin off.
Reduce the oven heat to 450 degrees. In a large saute pan or Dutch oven, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the 3 diced garlic cloves and saute for just a minute or so. Add the cream and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add in the paprika (or smoked chili powder), sprinkle of salt, and red pepper flakes. Stirring occasionally, simmer for 20 minutes with a lid on. Turn off heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Ladle the tomato mixture into a food processor or blender. Add in the peeled red pepper. Puree until very smooth.
Pour the chickpeas and 5 peeled whole garlic cloves onto your baking sheet lined with fresh parchment or Silpat. Slowly pour the 2 Tbsp olive oil, cumin and pinch of salt onto the chickpeas. Toss evenly. Roast for about 10 minutes. Give the chickpeas a good stir. In a dry corner of the same sheet, pour in your almonds to toast. Roast for another 3-5 minutes making sure the almonds don't burn.
Ladle the pureed soup into soup bowls. Top with the roasted chickpeas, almonds and fresh parsley. Get ready for an incredibly synergistic experience to start to your dinner.
Posted by Alli Shircliff at 3:04 PM