Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Feta & Pignolia Nuts

roasted red pepper soup 1

Surely, we all have childhood-related food indulgences we don’t like to discuss. Of course banana purée wasn’t our first solid; it was foie gras mi-cuit. At age 2, we weren’t fed spaghetti with tomato sauce, but rather, we slurped a slippery noodle out of a bowl of assam laksa. But of course. All foodies were born foodies. So, how many of us will admit to eating as-orange-as-a-fake-tan-gone-wrong-cheese known as Kraft Singles? Grilled between two white, flaccid pieces of toast. Anyone? *A hand slowly creeps up from the crowd*. Yes, I ate chicken nuggets (didn’t we all?), Kraft Singles grilled “cheese” sandwiches, and I rather messily drank a bowl of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, the one of sodium-packed-goodness fame. The soup immortalised by Andy Warhol.

andy-warhol-campbells-soup-i-chicken-noodle-c-1968

After school, in front of the telly, I many a time ignored wafts of cinammon-spiced rice and clove-cloaked chicken korma coming from the kitchen; preferring a reliable bowl of Campbell’s soup. It was the glossy, pudgy noodles and the congealed chicken which had their appeal, mainly.

That doesn’t mean to say I didn’t come to love real soup. Soup that isn’t out of a can. A smoky-sweet, velvety purée of red capsicum, roasted alongside shallots and garlic, sautéed in olive oil with waxy potatoes and passed through a food mill. Topped with buttery, tart, Irani feta to dovetail with the sweet elements; pignolia nuts for textural play; and rounded off nicely with a meandering trail of olive oil. Some crusty bread with a soft interior, to mop it up.

A rust, Autumn-toned soup.

roasted red pepper soup II

For the record, I still like Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, after all, so did Warhol, who said, “I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for twenty years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.”

A few cooking notes:

  • A blender can be used to purée the vegetables, but I prefer to use a food mill, as I find that the blender turns the potatoes to a gluey mess.
  • The juices of the roasted peppers are very sweet; while peeling the charred skin and removing the seeds, be sure to save them and add them to the pot. Please don’t wash them, or you’ll lose the juices.
  • Fleur de sel is very dear, but this recipe only requires one teaspoon. Since the dish has very few ingredients, using fleur de sel will lift the flavours rather nicely.
  • My preferred feta is an Irani brand, made with sheep’s milk.
  • As oven intensities vary, please do keep an eye on your capsicum, shallots and garlic; roasting times may vary.

Campbell’s Soup photo credit: MoMA

Serves 2

Active Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:
*3 red capsicum
*1 clove garlic in its skin, rubbed with olive oil
*2 small shallots in their skin, rubbed with olive oil
*3 tbsp olive oil
*1 medium-sized potato, peeled and cubed
*2-3 cups chicken broth
*1 tsp fleur de sel or sea salt
*2 tbsp soft feta
*2 tsp pignolia nuts

Preparation:
*Place red capsicum, shallots and garlic for roasting directly under a high-heat broiler. The garlic and shallots should be soft and ready within the first 10 minutes, remove from the oven, cool and squeeze the flesh out of the skins and set aside;
*Rotate the peppers for a total of 20 minutes as they blacken and char; when roasting is complete, remove and place in a brown paper bag for 10 minutes. This will help the skin slide off easily;
*Remove the skin and seeds and set capsicum aside, reserve the juices;
*Place a heavy-bottomed pan on medium heat and add 3 tbsp of olive oil;
*Add the roasted garlic, shallots and potatoes and sauté till potatoes turn golden;
*Deglaze the pan with chicken stock and add salt, capsicum and reserved juices;
*Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes, till potatoes are soft;
*Transfer to a food mill (or blender) and purée and pour back into pan;
*Simmer on a very low heat, and add water (approximately 1 cup)- create a consistency you like. Season to taste with salt;
*Decant into bowls and serve with a dollop of feta cheese, a scattering of pignolia nuts and a ribbon of olive oil, alongside some crusty bread. Swirl the feta in with your spoon before you dive in.

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Comments

  1. This looks delicious. Will you be preparing it for Thanksgiving, perhaps? ;)

  2. Oh thank you – I shall be trying this recipe, it looks divine and the photos are gorgeous. I love my food mill – its my favourite. Bought it at a hardware store. xx

  3. yum! It looks so good. Will def try this weekend. I love soups, keep them coming

  4. So beautifully written, and so utterly, dreamily delicious looking. Your blog is such a delight. I can’t get enough of it. xx

  5. Thanks for stopping by at Mapping the Marvellous. I really like your blog, too, and look forward to reading and seeing more! Marion

  6. Love the recipe, Shayma. You might want to try roasting peppers on the stove top, I find it takes less time and works equally well, if not better. http://dlynz.com/?p=3323

  7. @lipstickmasala I wish. sigh.

    @So Lovely Thank you, my lovely, for visiting and the endless support.x

    @Petulia With capsicums bought in Rome, I am sure it will taste good. Thanks for your comment.

    @Marion Thank you for visiting my site. Look forward to reading more of your posts.

    @Mrs T Ah, the lovely&talented Mrs T, my dear friend. As someone new to the blogging world, you don’t know how much these comments means to me. Thank you so much.

    @Rabia Thank you, you are right. The only hitch is that a lot of people in the US&Canada don’t have gas fired stovetops, rather, they have convection burners, so it couldn’t work for them. But for those with gas-fired stovetops, this is a great tip- thank you so much.

  8. Love the short descriptions which build up the appetite and the interest.Yours is a site so eclectic…at once Oriental and exotic and at the same time easy to make yummy soups!!Fantastic keep it rolling dear spicey.

  9. Roasted red pepper and feta…
    It must taste heavenly…
    Iffet

  10. your blog is shaping up to be one of my new faves -and I still try to sneak the odd pack of processed cheese slices in the shopping basket! As well as enjoying my mum’s keemas and biryanis, I used to demand findus crispy pancakes after school. This recipe looks like exactly the sort of thing I could do with right now!

  11. @Gourmand Thanks, Baba. You’re my inspiration.

    @Iffet It’s a classic Mediterranean combo, the Turks do it so well.

    @Gastrogeek Thanks for the lovely compliment. It’s so nice to hear that we still go back to the food we ate as children- even if it means eating processed cheese!

  12. looks sooo good.. i’m so jealous of your hubby since he gets to try all these delights!

  13. I looove soups….and this one looks divine….che brava che sei Shayma!!!….la provo subitissimo!!

  14. oh and Shayma hope you have a chapati recipe on your schedule..:-)!

  15. and dal!
    Now i know why my sis enjoyed those dinners so much…

  16. I love soups. Love love love them. Baba got me a book on soup and salads and I have tried to make a few of the soups from there. Will try this one when I get back to paki for sure! Maybe I will feed it to Sophia ;).

  17. fantastic…my one stop recipe shop!..the prelude is as good as the recipe…agree with gourmand about teasing the interest and the appetite..the ingrates are all having red pepper soup tomorrow!

  18. shaheryar mirza says:

    hey! website looks excellent and makes me hungry, therefore i will NOT be visiting ever again..just kidding…good job! seems to be doing really well with loads of comments, and the food looks great…congrats again and keep it up!

  19. OMG I LOVE SOUP!
    I think even I can master this one. Going to make for myself and Husband one cold wintry night when the little ones are asleep. How delicious.

  20. Made for lunch today – delicious, rich, sweet, comforting. Big thumbs up from everyone including the three year old! x

  21. sabiha iqbal says:

    Shayma,Im going to try this. looks tempting.

  22. @Fati @Fran @Raya @F @shmooz @Sherry @Mothershop @Kate @Sabiha Thank you all, for your kind words and visiting my blog- being a newbie you don’t know how grateful I am.

    @Fran Unfortunately I hurt my hand some years ago, so I cannot knead. My sister makes lovely chapatis, if I can get her away from her blog (www.lipstickmasala.com) perhaps I can persuade her to write a guest post.

  23. Beautiful soup…colour of rust…one of my favourite colours and the lazy trail of olive oil is perfect.

  24. @Zurin Thank you so much.

  25. I love the flavors of your soup. Great recipe!

  26. Beautifully coloued and creamy looking soup. The feta and nuts have to be the perfect finish.
    My daughter still prefers soups out of a can!

  27. Aaaaaahh! Yes PLEASE! I like somuchalotohmygod!

  28. I have taken a special interest in red peppers recently after I found out they are LOADED with Vitamin C, so what better veggie to use for winter soup that this one! Plus I have some feta in the fridge I need to use up. Great!
    I can’t believe you admitted you like Campbell soup!

  29. Jennifer Ann says:

    Shayma, I am SO HAPPY to have found your red pepper soup recipe here! It had disappeared from Food 52, and I had already promised my Sunday guests that I would make it. Such a lovely recipe.

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