I confess, I can cook for the transition of fall to winter, winter to spring, spring to summer, but when it comes to the beginning of fall, I’ve drawn a blank. I know I should be reveling in squash and carrots and apples during what has really been a spectacular fall–and I will be savoring all those things soon, I promise–but I just haven’t had a taste for any of it yet.
It’s too dark too early to grill, and too (blissfully, gloriously) warm for me to want to turn on the oven for anything other than dessert (and I have an awesome one for you soon), meaning a lot more staring contests with my refrigerator and subsequent calls for takeout than I like to admit.
Let’s ignore the takeout and instead talk about the soup I ended up making with the giant bowl of grilled peppers languishing after my last grilling session. These are the kind of impromptu dishes that make me feel like a good cook–random components assembled in the right order somehow end up as a really tasty, really easy dish…that I may have eaten with grilled cheese every night this week. Yeah, let’s not talk about that either.
In any case, this is a great soup that you can easily make any season with ingredients you probably have on hand–a few jars of grilled peppers (or grill your own if they’re in season), onion, garlic, a few spices, a little honey and vinegar, some broth and some milk. A pretty good alternative to takeout, I’d say.
(On a sidenote, thanks to my dad and especially my photographer sister Laura this week in helping me hunt down a new, better lens after mine had an unfortunate encounter with an imbalanced cooling rack and, subsequently, my floor. I love my new toy!)
Roasted Red Pepper Soup
You have three options for the peppers: cook fresh peppers over a charcoal grill, which I think has the best flavor; grill peppers over the flame on your gas stove or under your broiler; or buy jarred roasted peppers. Considering the amount of takeout I’ve had lately, I absolutely would not judge you buying the peppers. With that said, the seasoning here is really flexible–add more cayenne if you like it spicy, more vinegar if your peppers are really sweet, non-dairy milk if that’s your preference.
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup shallots, chopped
3 cups roasted peppers, peeled and seeded
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup tomato sauce
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/2-3/4 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil and heat until shimmering. Add garlic, shallots, and salt to taste, turn heat down to medium low and saute until soft and just starting to brown.
Stir in peppers, broth, tomato sauce, cayenne, and paprika and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook for 10 to 15 minutes as flavors meld. Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth (or blend in batches in a regular blender and return to the pot). Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Stir in honey and sherry vinegar and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, then stir in 1/2 cup milk. If soup is too thick for your taste add up to another 1/4 cup milk and taste and adjust seasoning for the final time before serving.