Wednesday Night Soup: Red Pepper Soup with Pesto

What a lovely party we had on Saturday at the book launch. Big thanks to everyone who came. You asked such good questions and listened well. Thanks for the support. The only downside was that you didn’t eat all the soup. I brought some on Monday to a local refugee centre, and the rest I froze. I think we are going to follow Daisy’s lead and host a community supper for our neighbours. Why don’t you do the same–and let me know how it goes.

Here’s a recipe for a rich, intensely flavoured soup. I mention at the end of it that I make pesto and freeze it in small containers. Two pesto-related stories: this summer, basil didn’t grow well in our area and it just wasn’t available in large quantities. I did a little experiment on one batch of pesto–I used equal parts basil and arugula to make pesto. It tastes slightly different–more peppery–but it works. Some of this pesto is going to be used tonight on pasta, rather than in soup, for my middle child, who is running a huge cross-country race tomorrow, and for whom pesto pasta is a pre-race tradition. It’s a delicious meal–and so is this soup.

Red Pepper Soup with Pesto

Remove the seeds and stems from 4 red peppers (not hot peppers) and roast them in a hot oven until they are softened and slightly blackened around the edges. Take them out and let them cool slightly, then peel the blackened skin from the peppers. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, sauté  1 large chopped onion, 4 cloves garlic, minced, 1-1/2 cups carrots (or sweet potatoes – approximately 2 carrots or 1 sweet potato), chopped; 1 cup potatoes (1 potato), chopped. You can sauté this until they just start to brown. Then add 3-1/2 cups vegetable stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add the roasted red peppers, salt and pepper. Blend thoroughly until smooth and add ½ cup of milk if desired. Serve this with a dollop of basil pesto in the center of the bowl.

My pesto consists of adding handfuls of washed basil leaves (maybe 3-4 cups) to a food processor, along with several cloves of garlic, several Tablespoons of either pine nuts or sunflower seeds, probably a ½ cup of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. I then start slowly pouring olive oil into the processor as it grinds the basil and company up. I often stop the food processor after about 30 seconds to scrape down the sides (and to taste-test the pesto!) You want the consistency to be thick but definitely cohesive. I store pesto in small containers in the freezer, but that is mostly to keep it from my family.

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