№ 86 - Orange Pepper Soup
This soup has been a Sykes family favorite ever since I first discovered it in Marco Canora's 2009 book Salt to Taste. It has rich, savory flavors and a luxurious velvety texture, yet is made without meat broth, butter or cream. It's vegan in fact, but fear not, it doesn't have any weird ingredients either. Depending on which peppers you use, it's also colored a bright orange or yellow. What's not too like?
Makes around 14 portions. Freezes well.
1 small onion (½ cup chopped)
1 small carrot (¼ cup chopped)
½ medium stalk of celery (¼ cup chopped)
6 twigs thyme, plus a few picked leaves for serving
2 bay leaves
1 cup olive oil
Freshly ground pepper and fine sea salt
Crusty bread or croutons for serving
Peel the carrot and onion and roughly chop all the soffrito ingredients (onion, carrot, celery). Core and seed the peppers and chop roughly (but keep separate from the soffrito). Peel the potatoes and dice 1-inch thick or so.
Heat a large pot over medium heat and add ½ cup olive oil as well as the soffrito. Sauté until just beginning to brown, about 8 mins. Season with salt and pepper. Add the peppers, stir and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the potatoes and bay leaves and cover with ½ gallon (8 cups) of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Tie up the thyme twigs with some cooking twine, add it to the pot and simmer for another 15 minutes or so, until the potatoes and peppers are completely soft.
Discard the bay leaves and thyme twigs and puree the soup in batches with a blender or food processor, incorporating another ½ cup of olive oil. Depending on the power of your blender, you might want to pass the soup through a fine sieve (this isn't necessary with my Vitamix). Taste for salt and keep adding until the soup tastes rich, complex and harmonious.
Serve hot, with some crusty bread or sprinkled with croutons and a few thyme leaves.
Will keep in the fridge for 4 days. If you reheat the refridgerated or frozen soup, you can recreate the creamy texture by running an immersion blender through it once hot.