Soup is my favorite food. You take a few vegetables, some onions, maybe a little oil, some water and some dairy at the end and you have a delicious and inexpensive meal that will feed half an army.
When I found myself in posession of a largish quantity of beautiful red peppers, it was natural that I'd think of a tureen filled with red pepper soup.
You could roast the peppers here, but its not necessary. The flavor would be more pronounced, but there's a lot of flavor in this soup already. If you like sweet vegetable soups with relatively low calories this is the soup for you.
We had friends over (my wife and her husband are training for the marathon (they hope) by running a few miles twice a week), and I served this soup with a big bowl of dandelion green, romaine, and baby spinach salad with cherry tomatoes and balsamic viniagrette, and a side of roasted corn on the cob with chili powder, lime, and black pepper. It was well received and matched nicely with a bottle of Big Fire - the Oregon Pinot Noir I've written about before.
If you add less stock to the soup, I would bet it makes a pretty good sauce for pasta or roasted eggplant or something similar. Have you had a red pepper lasagna before?
Red Pepper Soup
Five red bell peppers, seeded and diced
Six plum tomatoes, chopped
1 white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 quart vegetable stock
1 tablespoon fresh chopped tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper as required
1/2 pint heavy cream
Heat the oil in a stockpot. Add the garlic and onions when the oil is hot and stir to coat.
When onions are turning transluscent, add red peppers and tomatoes. Cook over medium-high heat for five minutes. Add stock and stir well.
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, add cayenne, add salt and pepper and cover.
Cook for twenty to thirty minutes, add tarragon, and blend. Add the cream and basil and stir into soup.
Serve hot or cold with appropriate sides. Reduce before adding cream or roast peppers before cooking to intensify the sweet pepper flavor in this soup.
UPDATE: I forgot to reveal the basil in the recipe. Also, one of our dining companions rightfully chides me for not mentioning the toasted slice of bread with garlic butter I floated on top of each of the bowls as noted in the comments below.
I hope there weren't any other secret ingredients I've left out, but if there were, you'll be the first to know.