Among the last vegetables to ripen, huge, golden peppers are a treat. This soup is a bit laborious to make, but you don’t need to serve a lot of it — just a taste at the start of the meal. And there are many ways to deliciously garnish this soup — consider a vinegar reduction; Romesco sauce on croutons; sour cream and chives; salsa verde; or, if you’ve still got fresh peppers, tiny minced peppers. And you can serve it hot or chilled. You can quickly throw together a pepper soup if you don’t bother to peel or roast the peppers. Just sauté them with the onions, add water or stock, and you’re done. However, it’s the skins that give peppers a sharp taste, so I take extra time to broil and then peel the peppers. While the broiler is heating, I use the pepper cores and a few harvest vegetables to make a simple, flavor-enhancing stock.
• 2 teaspoons olive oil
• 1 small onion, sliced
• Cores and trimmings from the peppers
• 1 small zucchini, chopped
• 1 small carrot, chopped
• Handful of ripe small tomatoes or a large tomato, halved
• Few basil leaves
• 1 thyme sprig, or a pinch of dried
• Sea salt
• 2 pounds (4 to 5) meaty yellow bell peppers, tops sliced off, cores and seeds reserved for stock
• Olive oil, as needed
• 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
• Vinegar (balsamic, sherry or white wine), to taste
• 2 tablespoons finely diced bell pepper, different colors, for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat broiler and position a rack about 8 inches beneath broiling unit.
2. Begin stock: Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat and add onion and the rest of the ingredients as you slice them, along with a scant teaspoon salt. When onion has some color, after about 5 minutes, add 5 cups water, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 25 minutes. Strain.
3. Cut peppers in half lengthwise and flatten them. Brush skins with oil, including the tops (minus their stems), and place them skin-side-up on a sheet pan. Broil only until skin is bubbling, puckered and lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Put blistered peppers in a bowl, cover, and leave them to steam for at least 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, begin soup. Heat 1-1/2 tablespoons oil in a soup pot. Add onion and cook over low heat while you peel peppers. Pull or scrape off as much skin as you can without making yourself crazy, then chop peppers and add them to the pot as you go, along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and strained stock. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
5. Cool soup slightly, then puree in batches or with an immersion blender. For the best texture, pass soup through a food mill or fine sieve. Taste for salt and add a few drops of vinegar to bring flavors together. Serve with a spoonful of diced pepper or another garnish (see headnote).
Freezing Notes: Everything in this soup freezes fine, so simply make it as directed, label and freeze. Garnish upon serving.
For more great summer freezer soups visit:
• Freezer-Ready Soups with Summer Produce
Reprinted with permission from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen by Deborah Madison, copyright 2006, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography copyright 2006 by Laurie Smith.