Sunday, November 20, 2011
Sweet Pepper Soup and Herb Parmesan Crostini
I have not been a huge soup person in the past and have only made soup at home once in a while. The weather has officially turned cool and I've been craving soup lately. I have made three soups in the last three weeks. The first was a butternut squash soup from Cooking Light. It was ok, but I didn't deem it blogworthy. The second soup was chicken noodle from Cook's Illustrated. A good solid soup, but I forgot to photograph it. Guess that means I have to make it again. And the third soup was this sweet pepper soup. You will notice that I didn't reference a recipe source for this one, because it was really an amalgmation of a few recipes I came across and I'm going to deem this one my own since it was vastly different from any of the individual recipes.
What I love about all this soup making is how easy it is. Especially since I am not making my own stock and using store bought stock or chicken base and water. I've been making the soup the night before we want to have it for dinner. I have noticed this extra time allows the soup flavors to develop overnight making it even better the next day.
I created this soup out of necessity of not wanting to waste 6 sweet bell peppers sitting in my fridge for over a week. I was very happy with the result. Hubby said this soup would be great with a grilled cheese sandwich and I have to agree. We had the soup with herb parmesan crusted crostini which is great to dip in and soak up all the sweet pepper goodness.
Sweet Pepper Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped into a medium dice
2 small carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
4 large garlic cloves, cut in quarters
1/4 cup dry white wine
6 sweet bell peppers, seeds and stems removed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
3 cups water
4 teaspoons chicken base (if you are using chicken broth instead, use 3 cups of low sodium broth)
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 large basil leaves plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream and feta cheese to top soup
In a dutch oven or large pot, heat olive oil on medium high heat and saute the onion, carrots and garlic until the onions are cooked, about 8 minutes. Add wine and cook on high until only about a tablespoon of wine remains. Add peppers, water, chicken base, red pepper flakes, basil and tomato paste. Season generously with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes until peppers are tender. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Alternatively, use a blender or food processor to puree the soup in batches. Strain soup into a large bowl using a fine mesh strainer. Don't skip this step if you like a smooth soup to strain out the skin from the peppers. Serve with a small dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of feta and freshly torn basil.
Herb Parmesan Crostini
1/2 cup coarsely grated or chopped parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoon fresh chives, minced (optional)
fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.
Cut baguette on the diagonal crosswise into 1/4 thick slices. Mix all ingredients together and lightly spread cheese mixture onto the slices and place face up on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and bake for an additional 2-3 minutes until crostini is golden brown.