Lisa inspired me today by asking if I had any good soup recipes. Of course I do — I’ve got more recipes than I know what to do with, and I make soup at least once a week — but I told her that I usually just wing it, which is the truth. But I like to check my books for ideas and inspiration (and pictures!), and good ole James Peterson came through for me tonight.
The cheapo market actually had great peppers the other day, which is how I found myself with a pile of beautiful yellows and oranges, with one stray red languishing alongside in the veggie drawer. I had been thinking of peperonata on the way home, but that started to seem boring, so I wanted to do something new. Soup! Thinking I had only yellow bells, I started dreaming of a pretty yellow soup, with some sort of garnish. Shrimp! Ooh, I forgot I had shrimp.
I checked to see what James had to say about bell peppers in his Splendid Soups. He does his red bell pepper soup Mexican-style, with some light chile action, finished with cream and sour cream. I’ve had Mexican overload lately, so I started thinking Spanish instead, which seemed like a lovely way to complement the orange.
Now, I don’t know my ass from authentic Spanish cuisine, but I do have some delicious sherry vinegar that deserves to splash everything, so James and I decided to go with that. I sautéed the chopped peppers with some onion and a lot of garlic, added chicken stock, and simmered away for about 15 minutes. Out came the immersion blender (best $5 thrift-store purchase ever), which let me purée it all right in the pot.
Since the whole operation was so fast, I decided to go the slick route and press the purée through a sieve. Finished the silky orange soup — now at about a medium consistency — with a little cream, salt, white pepper, some of that gorgeous vinegar, Tabasco (for a different kind of kick), and about half of some paprika-dusted goat cheese that’s been crying at me from the cheese stash in the fridge.
The shrimp was precooked (normally a no-no, but dammit, sometimes it really is perfect), so I figured they’d need just a little flavor. I melted some butter and sprinkled it with pimentón, then tossed in the shrimp. (Next time: Dry the shrimp first. Wet shrimp…not so pretty.) The little shrimp proved not much of a garnish (they disappeared in the soup), but hey…it’s just me.
More important: flavor? Sparkling — tangy and sharp and smooth (which if you think about it really isn’t an oxymoron). I love it! I think even James might be pleased.