Sweet Red Bell Pepper Soup with Sambuca Cream

Ingredients for soup
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon dried fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
½ bay leaf, crumbled
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped fresh or canned tomato
1 teaspoon tomato paste
6 Large red bell peppers, halved, seeded, and cut into 2-inch chunks
1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream
pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Generous splash of Sambuca
Sambuca cream

Ingredients for Sambuca cream
I cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons Sambuca
Pinch of sugar

Directions for soup
1. In a 4-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the 1/2 cup oil over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel seed, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, and basil. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the onion is translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes.

3. In a separate pot, bring the stock to a boil. Carefully pour the stock over the vegetables, stirring well to incorporate.

4. Add the tomato and tomato paste.

5. Meanwhile, place a large skillet lightly coated with olive oil over high heat. Sauté the bell pepper chunks until the skins are blistered and lightly charred. Add the peppers to the soup and simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot, for about 20 minutes.

6. Remove the soup from the heat and puree in small batches in a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade, then strain.

7. Return the soup to the saucepan, bring to a simmer, and add 1/2 cup of the cream and the sugar. Season with salt and pepper: If the soup is too spicy, add more cream. Add the Sambuca just before serving.

Serve the soup in individual bowls with a dollop of Sambuca Cream

Directions for Sambuca cream
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks form.

2. Add the lemon juice and zest, Sambuca, and sugar.

3. Continue whipping until the cream is almost stiff. Keep refngerated until time to serve.

Makes 1 cup

NOTE : The soup can be made up to 2 days in advance and slowly reheated. Don’t add the Sambuca until you are ready to serve.

Serves 6

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