Monday 28 November 2011

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup with Ciabatta

There I was, bumbling round the supermarket, muttering under my breath that I hate supermarket shopping – a necessary irritation in the flow of an otherwise enjoyable morning – when I spotted a treasure chest of superb ingredients for a Soup of the Day at Fancy Pans.  Piled up in an area given the delightful name of Vegetable Dump was an abundance of juicy, red peppers.  I scooped up most of them, leaving a few for other lucky shoppers, and headed off to pick up the item I came for. 

Approaching the Vegetable Dump was a juddering trolley which was being pushed by a member of the supermarket staff called 'Here to Help'.  There was a small mountain of very ripe vine tomatoes threatening to tumble floor wards from the post-date load of fruit and veg.  I nodded towards the tomatoes, he shrugged and I transferred them from one wobbly trolley to another – mine.  

 Snatching up a buy-one-get-one-free bacon bargain, I headed towards the checkout with my collection of red.

“Did you get the quail’s eggs?” Chef asked when I plonked my bargain-booty on the work surface.  Damn, I knew I had gone to the shops for something.

“They hadn’t been delivered,” I lied, “due in later.”  Chef harrumphed and began to create something special from a salmon.

I tipped the red fruits into the sink and washed them thoroughly.  For one batch of soup I took two large red peppers and two of the Ramero type and took the hard stalk and core out making sure I scraped all the seeds from the flesh. When the peppers were sliced in half I popped them into the oven to roast.  I then took a couple of pounds of the tomatoes and put them into a bowl.  I noticed the kettle had just boiled so I poured boiling water over them and re-filled the kettle.  Chef wouldn’t notice I’d used the boiling water. I then ran cold water over the tomatoes so that I could easily skin them and take the pips out.  Having done that, I weighed them and there was a pound of flesh – Shylock would have been proud.  I did think that had I not been able to find such lovely tomatoes, a 500gm can of chopped would have been equally as good, and saved on time.  In fact, I have some Morrison’s chopped tomatoes in the food store, some with herbs, some with chilli, even garlic, plus one with Basil. 

I checked on the peppers – they were roasting nicely. 

I rummaged in the veg store and found a red chilli.  I didn’t want to touch this really as it’s so painful when you rub your eyes after chopping one of these red-devils.  I pulled on a pair of disposable gloves, the kind you see paramedics wearing, to perform this operation and kept them on to chop a large onion too – it’s so hard to get rid of the smell of onion once infused into your skin.  Likewise with a clove of garlic which I crushed.  Whilst in chopping mode, I diced a carrot and then chopped up a couple of rashers of bacon from the bogof packs. Into a large, saucepan I poured some vegetable oil and turned on the heat.  I then threw in the onion, carrot, bacon and garlic and left them to cook for a few minutes.  When the peppers were roasted  I was easily able to peel off the skin.  I suppose I could have just chopped them up without roasting them, but I would have had to put the end product through a sieve to make sure there were no residue nasty bits.  The onion and carrots were soft so I added the peppers, tomatoes and chilli and gave it a good stir.  From the fridge I took about a pint of vegetable stock, we are out of chicken stock at the moment, but that would have worked too.  If you do try this recipe, you can always use a stock cube and boiling water if you don’t keep stock in the fridge (who does?)

After about twenty/twenty-five minutes everything was cooked and I took the hand blender and jooshed the soup.  It did need a little more salt and I also added some freshly milled black pepper.  

Chef's salmon dish looked good, but I’ll bet my Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup will out-sell it.  I’m offering it with Ciabatta – just gorgeous.  Master baker Paul Hollywood will guide through it if you would like to make your own, but it is tricky so I would buy it if I were you.

I supposed I had better go and get those quails eggs – I wonder what delight Chef is going to create with them.

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Ingredient Recap

2 or 3 Red Peppers
2 Ramero Peppers
1lb tomato flesh (about 500gm)
1 large onion
1 or 2 carrots
2 rashers of lean un-smoked bacon
1 or 2 red chillis
1 clove of garlic
1 pint of stock
Black pepper


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