Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Soup

We’ve made a few scrumptious spicy soups on this blog already – oh boy, have we.  Habanero Pepper Soup and Smoky Jalapeno Cheddar Soup are two crazy-good soups I crave on a regular basis.

This soup comes from a fresher angle; it’s essentially a soup of pureed roasted red peppers. Not a heavy cream base, or a cheese base. But I’m sort of lying. Because there is heavy cream in this, but not as much as I’d usually pour in. Unheard-of on this blog, I know.

And no bottled roasted peppers here. These are roasted in your oven, done the right way, because it’s super, super dummy-proof.

You know those recipes you cook over the course of the day that seem so effortless? Any crockpot recipe feels like this, and so does any bubbling braised beef short rib recipe with a bunch of leftover vegetables from the produce bowl on the counter, and even simple roast chicken.

There’s a reason to do this recipe while you’re in between laundry loads, cleaning out your junk drawer, or opening your Comcast bill. First, you’re going to get your oven nice and hot. Takes a while, at least for my hard-working apartment-grade oven. Then you’re roasting the peppers in the oven for 40 minutes or so, and letting them sit in a plastic Ziploc bag to steam, allowing for easier removal of the skins.

That’s another 15 minutes to do, well, god knows what. In my case, it’s probably something preposterous like organizing my bookshelf by color.

Finally, when you have 10 minutes to spare after you’ve responded to that month-old email you’ve been meaning to send, comes the cooking part, which takes hardly any time at all. By this point, your kitchen is smelling super aromatic. With the fire-roasted flavor of the peppers already achieved, there’s little need to keep the soup simmering for long to develop a richness of flavor.

You know what really sets a soup over the edge? Those final garnishes. But not just the garnishes that look good – it’s the ones that look good AND taste good that deserve that place at the top of your soup. For me, that’s usually something pourable – whether it’s a long squeeze of sriracha, a hefty drizzle of posh olive oil, a spoonful of sour cream that is almost cheese-like, or in this case, and thick pour of heavy cream and some minced, raw habanero.

Easy days at home should be just that – easy. We shouldn’t try to force effort when we’re not feeling it. Whether that’s in the kitchen, or when life’s endless to-do list beckons you away from deserved “me” time.

You can fit in delicious, gorgeous meals minimal effort – this recipe is proof of that!

Happy souping! 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

(If you are sensitive to heat, I would recommend leaving out the habanero in the soup recipe altogether. I know that raw habanero can be too much for some folks, so tread lightly!)

Serves 1.

  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 2 habaneros, minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 /2 shallot, minced
  • 1 / 2 cup heavy cream, plus additional for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed
  • Pinch of sugar

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 400*. Place the bell peppers in the oven on a sheet pan and roast for 40 minutes or so, until the peppers are charred in most places.
  2. Remove the peppers from the oven, and place them directly in a Ziploc bag. Allow to steam for 15 minutes or so.
  3. Remove the peppers from the bag, cut the tops off, remove the skins, and de-seed the peppers using the back of your knife. Cut the roasted peppers into large chunks, saving some of the pepper for garnish.
  4. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil and the butter in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and shallots, and sauté for 4 – 5 minutes or so, stirring often, being sure the garlic doesn’t burn.
  5. Add the roasted red peppers, 1 pepper’s worth of the minced habanero, heavy cream, a heavy pinch of salt, a heavy pinch of pepper, and a small pinch of sugar.
  6. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer. Remove from the heat, and add the mixture to the food processor, processing batch by batch until all the soup is pureed, adding the pureed soup back into the pot as you go.
  7. Once all the soup has been pureed, bring the soup to a boil. Remove from the heat.
  8. Plate the soup, garnishing with a pour of heavy cream and a sprinkling of fresh habanero, if desired.

 

 

 

 

Cream of Fresh & Sun-Dried Tomato Soup

Homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese is a new thing for me – in particular, the homemade part. I’ve typically been an open a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, add milk, and heat it up on the stove kind of person. But this homemade version is one million light years ahead of the canned stuff.

I can’t get enough of cheese crisps. In Caesar salads. Or as a snack. I have Ina Garten to thank for this cheese discovery.

She’ll serve parm reg cheese crisps as hors d’oeurves with drinks. I can’t think of anything more perfect. She’ll take shards of parm reg, too, and serve those on their own with sea-salted Marcona almonds, citrus-marinated olives, or other ridiculously tasty snackables.

Make them tonight with that hunk you have in your fridge right now. You can find the recipe here.

Some of my other favorites of hers – Soppressata and Cheese in Puff Pastry, Blini with Smoked Salmon and Herbed Ricotta Bruschettas.

Cheddar cheese, like parm reg, is perfect for crisp-izing. Take a tablespoon or so of the shredded cheese, throw spoonfuls on parchment paper in a hot oven, and you have cheddar cheesy chips to snack on.

This recipe was inspired by Ina Garten’s Easy Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons.

Here, I wanted to find a way to incorporate sun-dried tomatoes. I could eat one after another, especially the tomatoes marinated in oil and herbs. This soup, with the sun-dried tomato flavor, is a welcome tomato punch to the mouth.

Cream-of soups are so versatile. You’re taking an ingredient you love – and really, it could be anything – and enveloping it in heavy cream, butter, and giving the flavors time to deepen on the stove top. Hankerings has posted a few of its favorite cream-of soups, including Cream of Chicken Soup with Crispy Chicken Skin and Mushroom Forager’s Soup.

Next cream-of soup on deck? A cream of bell pepper soup, which I have very high expectations for. Check back soon!

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 1 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil and herbs, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 / 2 white onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons sherry
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 / 4 cup basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 1 / 2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
  2. Add the butter and olive oil to a medium-sized saucepan. Heat until the butter is melted, and add the onion. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes until the onion becomes translucent. Add the garlic, and saute for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Open the can of tomatoes, and crush each tomato with your hand into the onion & garlic mixture. Be mindful of the tomato juices – they are likely to spray as you crush them. Add the remaining tomato sauce from the can into the pan as well.
  4. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, heavy cream, salt, pepper, basil, sherry, red wine vinegar and sugar. Heat until just-simmering, then turn off the heat.
  5. In a food processor, pour the soup until just below the liquid line. Pulse until nearly smooth. Puree the soup in batches, adding the soup back into the pot as you go along.
  6. Once the whole batch has been pureed, bring the soup to a near-boil, and simmer for 15 minutes or so, until the soup is reduced slightly.
  7. To make the cheese crisps, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place tablespoon-sized piles of the cheddar cheese 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes or so, until the crisps have seized and are slightly browned. Remove the crisps from the oven an allow to cool.
  8. Plate the soup, topping each bowl with 2 of the cheddar cheese crisps. Enjoy hot.

Scotch Egg Ramen Noodle Bowl

Scotch eggs. Oh my word. Where to even start?

They’re a traditional British snack food, often considered a picnic-ready food – and although they’re pretty much born to be a breakfast food item considering it’s an egg enclosed in sausage, we couldn’t help but figure, eh, let’s just eat these all day long.

I can’t think of a more delicious concept – jammy egg, Worcestershire sauce-doused ground pork, and other savory elements, all deep fried until golden and sizzly. Here, I went with an Asian flair and added soy sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil. I had a hankering for a bowl of piping hot ramen, and wanted the scotch egg to jive with the Asian flavors in the broth.

A local ramen joint – Jinya, is doing ALL the business. Over the past few months, my sister has been ordering from them four to five times a week – no exaggeration. One time, she had Jinya deliver across the city to her office. For lunch. If she’s any indication – those guys are doing ramen right.

I love the new topping options I’m seeing for ramen. An egg is the classic must have protein-booster, but now I’m seeing crunchy fried pork belly, roasted eggplant, slices of American cheese, and other super delicious topping ideas that go beyond just bean sprouts.

Not that there’s anything wrong with bean sprouts.

This bowl features all my favorite umami flavors – or at least, what I consider umami flavors for my weird palate. Mushrooms, cheese, egg and pork from the scotch egg, toasted sesame seeds, grated onion, spicy chili garlic paste, and corn for a bit of sweetness.

How do you like your ramen to be topped? What’s a cool addition that’s a bit out of left field? I’d love to hear your favorites! 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 1.

  • 1 egg plus 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 / 3 lb. pork sausage, out of its casing
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash soy sauce
  • 1 dash fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus 1 dash
  • 1 / 4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 / 4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi powder
  • 1 3 oz. package ramen noodles
  • 1 quart chicken or beef stock, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1 yellow Kraft Singles American cheese slice
  • 1 / 4 lb. mushrooms of your choosing, sliced thick
  • 1 / 4 cup corn
  • 1 / 4 white onion, grated
  • 2 Thai chilis, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon Dynasty Hot Chili Oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed
  • Enough vegetable oil to reach two inches-high in a fry-safe pan

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Toast the sesame seeds. Add them to a dry, hot pan. Toast them on medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, tossing often, until the seeds are golden brown and aromatic. Set aside.
  2. Combine the ground pork, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, and 1 dash sesame oil, along with a few grounds of black pepper. Set aside.
  3. Cover an egg with water in a small pan, and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes, and remove from the heat. Place the egg in an ice bath, and allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  4. Coat a saute pan in olive oil, and add the mushrooms. Sprinkle with a large pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes until the mushrooms shrink and become tender. Set aside.
  5. Prepare the scotch eggs. Combine the flour and the wasabi powder in a bowl. Set aside. Take the egg out of the ice bath and smash the egg on both sides, slowly rolling the egg until the shell slides off. Take the pork mixture and flatten it, putting the egg inside and carefully enclosing the egg in the ground pork, until it’s covered evenly on all sides. Place the egg in the flour mixture, then the beaten egg, then the panko bread crumbs. Set aside.
  6. Heat the vegetable oil in a fry-safe pan – enough that the oil rises 2 inches high in the pan. To test the oil readiness, put a pinch of flour in the oil. If it begins to sizzle and brown, the oil is ready to use.
  7. Place the scotch egg in the hot oil with a slotted spoon. Turn the egg carefully throughout the cooking process, about 4 minutes total, until all sides are browned. Remove the egg from the oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
  8. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a separate pot, and add the garlic. Saute the garlic in the oil for 3 minutes or so. Add the quart of stock, and bring to a low simmer. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the stock has concentrated slightly. Add the ramen noodles, and cook according to package instructions, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  9. Serve the ramen in bowls, topping with the corn, Thai chilis, sauteed mushrooms, grated onion, chili oil, toasted sesame seeds, American cheese and the scotch egg, cut in half lengthwise. Serve hot.

 

Mushroom Forager’s Soup

I’m in full-on mushroom mode this fall. Few things are better than that wholesome, nutty smell in my kitchen, and sautéed mushrooms are always a perfect bite before dinner. Add garlic to the sauté and you’ll hear earnest whimpers from my boyfriend about how good it smells. And they’re not too filling, either.

Did you a mushroom lover is called a mycophile?

I came across a organization with members that forage locally for mushrooms and host speakers with a deep knowledge of fungi – the Mycological Association of Washington, D.C. I saw a meeting they hosted on harvesting truffles, which piqued my interest for obvious reasons. I joined the group. They offer “forays” into the woods to seek out mushrooms – with experts. Don’t worry. I don’t want to be eating some red spotted toadstool mushroom, and be foaming at the mouth minutes later.

Anyone go mushroom foraging? What is it like?

I will usually buy mushrooms in bulk because I know they’ll get eaten – sometimes I’ll buy those stuffing mushrooms, other times I’ll get a huge bag of the loose cremini mushrooms.

But it’s a lot more fun to veer out of the produce aisle and head into the dried foods sections to seek out the interesting mushrooms stocked there. I hadn’t noticed the chanterelle mushrooms before. I’d usually just swing by to grab morels.

I was so excited to get home to taste these mushrooms – I couldn’t remember if I’ve had them before. They’re great reconstituted, almost spicy, but I can only imagine how much better they are fresh. Maybe it’s worth an order online. But for those who are like me without access to the fresh variety, the reconstituted dried chanterelles bring a deeper, woodsier flavor than your portabella or white cap mushrooms.

The base of this soup is a mushroom stock imbued with a variety of mushrooms I had on hand – baby bella, beech, oyster, shitake and chanterelle mushrooms all made the cut. Add some crushed garlic and springs of thyme, and that’s all she wrote. The stock was perfect.

If you love mushrooms, you’ll love this recipe. And if all else fails, just know you’re eating a cream-based soup, and really, how bad could that taste?

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 1 pound mushrooms of your choosing (I used baby bella, beech, oyster, shitake and reconstituted chanterelle mushrooms), plus 1 / 2 pound mushrooms of your choosing, sliced thick, for garnish, if desired
  • 4 springs thyme
  • 2 garlic gloves, crushed, plus 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1 / 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Olive oil, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Combine the mushrooms, thyme, crushed garlic, 1 1 / 2 teaspoon salt and water in a pot. Allow to come to a boil. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the stock is a deep brown flavor. If using reconstituted chanterelle mushrooms, strain those mushrooms, and add that liquid to the pot as well.
  2. Strain the stock through a colander lined with a paper towel to eliminate the dirt. Set the stock aside.
  3. In the same pot, melt the butter. Add the minced garlic, and allow to cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the flour, and stir until the flour is incorporated into the butter mixture. Add the milk, heavy cream, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, nutmeg, and bring to a light boil. Allow to simmer and thicken slightly, about 10 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, sautee a variety of mushrooms of your choosing (1 / 2 pound or so) in a skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper, for about 5 to 7 minutes on medium heat, until they are lightly browned. Set aside.
  5. Add 3 cups of the mushroom stock to the soup. Allow to simmer for 15 additional minutes, until the soup reaches a chowder consistency. Taste the soup for seasonings (salt & pepper), and adjust accordingly.
  6. Plate the soup, topping with extra sautéed mushrooms for garnish, if desired.

 

 

 

 

Mom’s French Onion Soup

My mom makes really good French onion soup. You know the kind I’m talking about.

Served in the traditional brown ombre crock pots, you spoon into a molten cap of cheese with those golden, crispy cheese bubbles on top. The broth is piping hot, scattered with droplets of beef fat that float and slide easily into your spoon. The crispy cheese pieces that are baked onto the dish call your name as you near the bottom of the bowl.

The flavor can be incredible when you make onion soup the right way. It should be.

As with any good stock-based soup, you have to prioritize your stock. It bears repeating because sometimes I get complacent, and go with what’s convenient. By complacent, I mean using store-bought cartons. It happens more often than it should. But I figure, if I’m making French onion soup, there’s a strong chance I have time to make homemade beef stock, too.

A recipe for beef stock from Bon Appetit shows us how simple making beef stock can be. Just remember to grab a few pounds of cattle marrow bones the next time you go to the grocery store. The butcher will have them. Everything else – trust me, you already have lying around.  Celery, carrots, garlic, an onion or two? That’s it. Really!

Drawing from a sermon of mine in an earlier post on making chicken stock – don’t worry too much about getting the proportions perfect, according to some recipe. At least I don’t. The sheer act of making homemade beef stock is deserving of a high five.

French onion soup always had a special occasion vibe to it – it’s a process. That overfilled pot of onions? That’s going to cook down to almost nothing before you do anything else with it. My mom thinks of it as therapeutic cooking, and I totally agree with her. It’s a satisfying feeling seeing those heaps of onions do their thing and cook down into pure onion goodness.

So mom, how did I do?!

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 4.

  • 3 Spanish onions, peeled and sliced crosswise
  • 4 stems thyme, tied into a bouquet garnier (tied together with kitchen twine)
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf, dried or fresh
  • 4 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 – 4 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 baguette
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed
  • Olive oil, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to broil.
  2. Coat the bottom of a large dutch oven with olive oil. Add the butter and allow to melt. On medium heat, sauté the onions, adding a large pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Add the garlic, bouquet garnier as well as the bay leaf to the pot. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the onions begin to darken and caramelize.
  3. Once the onions are a deep brown, add the Worcestershire sauce and raw flour. Cook for a couple of minutes to allow the flour to absorb into the mixture.
  4. Add the beef stock, remove the thyme bundle and bay leaf, and bring the soup to a boil.
  5. In small oven-safe bowls, ladle in the soup, leaving about an inch of space at the top. Layer enough 1 / 2 inch slices of baguette to cover the soup – 2 or 3. Top each dish with 3 / 4 to 1 cup of the Gruyere. It will melt down.
  6. Place the soup bowls on a sheet pan, and place under the broiler for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and browned.
  7. Serve hot, with extra torn baguette on the side for dipping.