Paddy Burke’s Pepper Soup
I found this recipe in the “Irish Pub Cookbook” that my friend Valerie suggested to me long ago (link to buy this book is on the Cookbooks page). I have a love-hate relationship with bell peppers. Sometimes I think they are the greatest things in the world, sometimes I really dislike the taste of them (mostly if they’re raw). In any case I don’t usually like them in large amounts. So I thought it would be interesting to try out this soup and see how I reacted to it. This soup was my Thanksgiving contribution this year. All the main dishes and sides were pretty much spoken for, but I wanted to contribute something too. So I figured a nice light soup that people could sip on but that wouldn’t fill them up or snatch focus from the main event (TURKEY!) would work well. I’m not a huge fan of blending soups, mainly because I liked chunky soup. But there are some soups that need to be blended, and cream soups featuring bell peppers are one of those soups. So I figured I might as well try it. One thing to note is that they suggested serving the bowls of soup with a tablespoon of crème fraîche swirled into each one. There are 2 things I have to say about that. The first thing is that I did spring for a little container of the stuff at the store, but if you feel like you can’t afford it, sour cream or plain yogurt will work just as well. The second thing is that I have never tried crème fraîche until this moment. Never in my whole life. It was rather a lovely experience. I can see the appeal. It’s similar to sour cream or yogurt, but the consistency sits (in my opinion) between the two and the taste does as well. It was delicious, but that said, I’m not quite sure why everyone freaks out over it. I probably won’t buy it again unless I feel it’s necessary to the success of a certain recipe. I’m cool using plain yogurt instead. This soup was a fun complement to the heavier sides and mains of Thanksgiving dinner. No one really had massive bowls of it, but I figured that would happen anyway. Rather, I noticed people using this BETWEEN their different dishes almost like a palate cleanser (Really?!). Eat a ton of mashed potatoes, take a drink of soup, eat a few forkfuls of turkey, take a drink of soup, green bean casserole, soup again. Anyway, I considered it a huge triumph. And after the decadence of Christmas eating this may be just what you need to ease back into your work week. It is just the right amount of decadent to practical. Remember to use Kerrygold’s Irish butter if you can find it. It really has a certain something that makes the soup a little special. My gift to you. Ho ho ho.
Paddy Burke’s Pepper Soup
1 stick Kerrygold’s Irish butter
4 bell peppers (combination of red, orange and yellow), seeded, deribbed and diced
1 red onion, chopped
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups vegetable stock
2/3 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon minced flat leaf parsley
salt and black pepper to taste
6 tablespoons crème fraîche
1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
2. Add the peppers and onion and cook, covered, stirring once or twice till the vegetables are tender but not browned.
3. Stir in the flour until blended with the vegetables.
4. Add the vegetable stock a cup at a time, stirring after each addition to blend with the flour and vegetables.
5. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 50-60 minutes or till the vegetables are tender.
6. Remove from the heat and let it cool 10 minutes.
7. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree till smooth.
8. Return the soup to the pot.
9. Whisk in the half-and-half.
10. Season with the basil, parsley, salt and pepper.
11. Simmer till heated through and serve.