This make-ahead recipe is perfect for entertaining. Guests can sip the zesty tomato soup from small cups or glasses.
3 red bell peppers (1 1/2 lb. total), rinsed, stemmed, seeded, and halved
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion (7 oz.), peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 can (28 oz.) whole San Marzano or other pear or plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon paprika such as pimentón de La Vera (see notes)
3 cups vegetable or fat-skimmed chicken broth
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Crème fraîche or plain yogurt
How to Make It
Preheat the broiler. Place the red pepper halves, cut side down, in a baking pan and broil 4 to 5 inches from heat until the skins are black and blistered, about 8 minutes. Let cool, uncovered, 10 to 15 minutes. Peel the peppers and place in a bowl, reserving any juices.
In a 3- to 4-quart pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and the onion; stir often until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the roasted peppers and tomatoes, along with their juices, and the paprika. Bring to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.
In a blender or food processor, purée the soup in small batches until smooth. Return purée to the pan and stir in broth and lemon juice. Stir over medium heat until hot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into cups or bowls and garnish with a dollop of crème fraîche or plain yogurt and parsley.
Do-ahead tips: Make soup up to 3 days ahead. Store airtight in the refrigerator. Reheat before serving.
Party short-cut: If your guests tend to congregate in the kitchen, leave this roasted red pepper soup over a low flame on the stove and set cups, ladle, and toppings nearby (that's one fewer dish to wash).
Wine pairing: Classic Brut sparkling wine brings elegance to this dish. Alternatively, a dry, fruity rosé is an unexpected match.
Notes: Pimentón de La Vera is a Spanish paprika that adds a smoky, sweet intensity, but Hungarian or regular paprika work too.
Although the recipe generally gets 5 stars, I was a bit nervous about this soup because so many people said that it was missing something and needed to be altered. In the end, when I made it, I did alter it: I doubled the garlic & paprika, I added 3t lemon juice, I added 1 roasted jalapeno, I used 2 cans chicken broth. The soup was FANTASTIC, and I would totally make it again! We served it with homemade corn tortillas, which I thought was nice. My fiance will likely want to make bread to go with it next time.
This recipe is a good start, but a few additions made it outstanding. Add bay leaf and dried thyme while simmering. Remove bay leaf before putting in blender. After soup is blended, stir in 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar and a splash of gin and 1/2 c. cream. Or instead of cream top each serving with a dollop of creme fraiche.
Great soup, but needed a little doctoring. I doubled the paprika and garlic as another person suggested. I also added a combination of a few chile powders including ancho chile powder...made it a bit smoky tasting. Instead of pureeing in the blender I used my immersion blender and it wasn't as smooth as I would have liked it so I ended up getting out the blender after all...was totally worth it...velvety texture was great. Soup is rich without any cream or hardly any fat. Wonderful for a Fall day. Next time I might consider adding a few extra roasted peppers so it seems more peppery and less tomato-y. This soup seems to lend itself well to positive experimentation so have fun!
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