Crème of Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup
This classic soup is just what a grilled cheese needs for a tasty lunch, or dress it up with a variety of toppings (bacon anyone?) for a lovely first course. Keep it clean without the crème fraiche or give it that hint of luxury by splashing the top with a dollop.
- 1 large red pepper
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 tbsp. flour
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 (15-oz.) can whole, peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand
- ¼ cup heavy cream (optional)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Crème fraîche, croutons, and finely chopped chives, to garnish (optional)
- Lightly oil pepper and cook directly over flame on the stovetop or under the broiler in the over, turning often until lightly charred on all sides. Place in a bag and let rest for two minutes. Remove and under running cold-water scrape off burnt skin, core and remove seeds and chop. Set aside.
- In a large 4-6qt. Dutch oven or heavy bottomed saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat, until its fat renders and bacon is crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove half of rendered fat and discard. Add butter, and increase temperature to medium-high; add garlic, onion, and carrot, and cook, stirring, until soft but not caramelized, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add roasted pepper and tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until beginning to create a fond on the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes. Add flour, and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes more.
- Deglaze with stock and add thyme, bay leaf, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat, and purée in batches, being careful not to overfill blender; return to saucepan, and stir in cream if using. Season with salt and pepper.
- Divide among bowls; dollop with crème fraîche, and sprinkle with croutons and chives.
Recipe adapted from Saveur.com