Cream of Roast Red Pepper & Smoked Paprika Soup

Luscious smoky sweet powerful Autumn sunshine in a bowl

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I love roast red peppers and their smoky sweet flavour in all their guises and this soup takes them to a sophisticated new height. Roasting red peppers of course  accentuates their flavour and although skinning and de seeding them is a bid fiddly I think the results are so worthwhile it is one of those steps really worth doing. Smoked paprika adds yet more smokiness and depth – worth a shopping trip to la Boqueria for.

Ingredients – serves 8 generously and some to freeze

20 quite fat sweet peppers (they do shrink down to nothing)
1 large chopped onion (red or white) and some olive oil to fry them in lightly
2 or three cloves  of garlic
1.5 litres stock (I like chicken but a vegetable one is fine and you will not be judged for using ready made)
500 ml double cream (thats “heavy cream” in ‘Merica or “smantana dulce” in Romania)
3 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika – I like the sweet one not the hot one in this recipe
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

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Gadgets & Gizmos

A stick blender or blender, Fairly large saucepan, Baking tray

Plan Ahead

Roast the peppers and skin them ahead of time, freeze them and have them handy for recipes like this.

How To

Bake the red peppers at 180C on baking trays lined with aluminium foil or baking paper until they blacken. This is what gives the smoky taste. They really do need to look a bit cremated – fear not!

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To remove the skins of the peppers place them in a large plastic freezer bag when still warm (this helps the skins loosen from the pepper flesh).  Strip of the skins and remove the seeds. It’s a fairly messy process and depending on how seedy your peppers are you may need to hold them under running water. You should end up with pieces of red pepper flesh. Personally I prefer to have a few seeds in and not use running water because this keeps all the flavour concentrated in.

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Cut the  and onion into rough cubes. Finely chop the garlic. Fry gently in a little oil until the onion is just cooked (5-8 minutes) but not browned and it remains translucent. Add the smoked paprika. You want a bright coloured soup not a muddy brown colour here.  Add the red pepper flesh, the bay leaves and and the stock. Simmer for 10-20 minutes until all the flavours have mixed and the soup is very hot.

Remove the bay leaves. Really! Blitzed bay leaves are bitter and horrible! Blitz the soup until it’s a thin puree like consistency.  Now add the cream – here I had some really good local sweet cream I had found.

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Now heat again very gently until hot.  If this soup splits (the peppers might be a tad acidic but the roasting should take care of that) then add 1 teaspoon of cornflour thinned in 2 tablespoons of milk.

Serve with  smoked paprika sprinkled on top or chives or a generous amount of chopped parsley.  I also like it topped with (vegans look away) crispy smoked bacon or chorizo. Add your favourite bread and a glass of hearty red wine. Enjoy!

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