Our grocery store has had red bell peppers on sale for a week or two now, piles and piles of beautiful red shiny skins. I’ve been looking for recipes to use them up (not that that’s a huge problem – I love red peppers and used to eat them constantly as a childhood snack). In any case, I found a yummy sounding recipe for roasted red pepper soup, and decided to customize it and give it a go. The original recipe is here, but I’ll provide my own (healthier) instructions here.
In a saucepan, melt 1 tsp unsalted butter. Once melted, add 1/4 cup red onions and several cloves of minced garlic. Cook for a bit until the onions soften. While this is cooking, roughly chop three red bell peppers and add them to the pot. Add two cups of chicken or vegetable broth, 2 tbsp tomato paste, and some cilantro and salt and pepper (to taste). Simmer for 10 minutes, then add 1/4 cup quick cook oats and cook for a few more minutes. These are use in place of the heavy cream and cornstarch, and will thicken the soup in a much healthier way. It may look odd to see oats swimming around in the pot with the soup, but you won’t even know they’re there once you blend it. Cool for a bit, then toss it in the blender to puree it (or use an immersion blender if you’re lucky enough to have one of those cool contraptions).
While the soup is cooling (and yes, that step is necessary – you should always be careful blending just-boiled soups because if you cap the lid of the blender tightly, blending hot liquids creates a vacuum effect that may cause the blender to explode, scalding you with hot soup), you can make the cilantro lime topping. You’re supposed to just mix cilantro and lime juice with sour cream, but I’m trying to avoid dairy and also increase your healthy fats, so I chose to make a topping out of 1/2 avocado, 2 tbsp lime juice, and the fresh cilantro. Just blend and then spoon some on top – delicious!
You may have noticed that the original directions called for roasted red pepper. I was way too lazy to take the time to roast and peel my peppers, so I opted to skip that step. However, I later made up for it by leaving the pot to simmer after adding the oats, while I went to go pick out an outfit to go running. It took me more than a few minutes to get dressed (not because I was so choosy, but because I haven’t done laundry since the first week in September so I’m running low on workout gear), and when I came back, the pot was burning. Presto – instant “roasted” flavor! Feel free to take the lazy way out and do what I did instead of roasting your peppers, though in truth, burning things creates carcinogens that are really not that good for you, so you probably should just skip the roasting altogether.
175 calories per serving (recipe above makes two servings)
I loved this recipe, and it was so easy to make! It came out full of flavor, though I found the tomato paste a bit overpowering and might use a little less in the future. All the ingredients are super healthy (well, except for the butter, but ti’s a very small amount and you could also substitute olive oil), and it provides a nice dose of veggies as well as good fats. It’s a bit higher in calories than I would like since the serving size isn’t huge, but that’s mostly due to the avocado, so I think you could either double the soup part of the recipe or cut the topping part in half. This will probably freeze very well, and I’d definitely recommend it as a nice light soup that still feels warm and filling on a cold day.