This dish came together one afternoon just before the kids went back to school, and was designed with a few different thoughts in mind. First, it is a vegetarian option (well, not quite, it does have chicken stock) that will pass Peyton’s “pescatarian” hurdle, it used some beautiful heirloom tomatoes, cilantro and thyme from our garden, and it qualified as an entry in Food52’s weekly competition for “Red Pepper” recipes.
For those of you new to “Oui, Chef”, Food52 is a fabulous website that I have contributed to over the past year or so. It was founded by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, and acts as a food lover’s portal that brings together terrific and passionate home-cooks to share recipes, and compete in weekly contests where the winners get their recipes published in the Food52 cookbook. I was lucky enough to win one of their first round of competitions, and will get to see one of my recipes published in their 1st cookbook that will come out later this year (click HERE for a look at the winning recipe).
I am THRILLED to tell you all that this recipe for roasted red pepper soup has been chosen as a FINALIST in this week’s competition. The gang is now working on their second book, and with your help, I just may be able to pull-out another win and earn the honor of inclusion in the second annual Food52 cookbook. Please visit the site by clicking this link: Food52, and if you’re not already a member (you really should be), join the fun community and VOTE for my “Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Corn and Cilantro”. Voting closes at 12 AM ET on 9/15/10, so don’t delay and please go NOW to vote. Thanks all….you’re the BEST! 10/4/10 UPDATE: Thanks to all of your support, this recipe won the “Red Pepper” competition and will be featured in the 2011 Food52 Cookbook! Below you can see a video of Amanda and Merrill making the soup.
Below are Amanda and Merrill’s comments on the dish:
“If you took all of the ingredients in this soup, threw them into a pot and cooked them together, you’d end up with a pretty delicious result. But Oui, Chef takes the soup to a new flavor planet by enhancing each component. He roasts the tomatoes, peppers, shallots and garlic until they’re smoky and charred. He toasts the corn in a pan with thyme and wraps it with butter. And he brightens a cilantro oil with splashes of sherry vinegar. By the time you’re done and have all the parts assembled beautifully in a bowl, you have a dinner party star and a soup that you’ll want to savor the next day for lunch”. – A&M
This soup is basically a variation on a red pepper-tomato sauce that I’ve tossed with pasta for years. Our corn is so good right now that I couldn’t resist adding some to the mix, and thyme and cilantro from the garden round out the dish.
Boris was lolling about the day that I was working on this, in a mild depression and totally bored, as many kids are a few days before school resumes. A little knife work was just what the doctor ordered to get his mind off his impending doom, and he made short work out of coring and segmenting the tomatoes and peppers, and cutting the kernels from the corn cobs. After a little time spent pulverizing the soup in the blender, he was grinning ear-to-ear like the Cheshire Cat!
Cheers – Steve
- 5 large red peppers, washed, cut in half and de-seeded
- 4 large heirloom tomatoes, washed, cored and quartered
- 8 large garlic cloves, still in their skins
- 3 large shallots, peeled and halved
- 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock, plus more if needed
- 1/4 teaspoon pimenton (smoked paprika)
- 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, well washed and spun dry
- 1 splash sherry vinegar
- 2 small ears sweet corn, cut from the cob
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, finely minced
- 1/2 shallot, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425℉
- Toss the pepper halves, tomato quarters, halved shallots and garlic cloves in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss with your hands to coat. Place them all in a single layer, skin side up in a large roasting pan.
- Place the pan in the oven and roast for 45 to 60 minutes, until everything has started to take on a nice charred appearance. Check the shallots and garlic at this point, if they are nice and soft, remove from the pan and reserve, if not, you can keep them in the pan for the final 15 minutes of cooking.
- At the one hour mark, remove the pan, peel the charred skin from the tomatoes and peppers, and squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins. Place the skinned tomatoes, peppers, garlic and shallots in a medium pot with the pimenton and chicken stock, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.
- Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender and place in a clean pan, check for seasoning and keep warm.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, toss in the cilantro and blanch for about 30 seconds. Pull from the pot with a slotted spoon and shock in ice water. When cooled, pour through a strainer to catch the cilantro, and pressing with the palm of your hand, wring as much of the water free as you can. Finely chop the herb, then toss into a bowl with enough EVOO to maker a spoonable cilantro oil, add a splash of sherry vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Reserve.
- Preheat a skillet over a medium flame, and when hot add a splash of olive oil and the minced shallot. Cook until the shallot starts to take on some color, then add the corn kernels, some salt and pepper, and the fresh thyme. Cook for 2 minutes, toss in the butter, and when it melts, remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl.
- To serve, place a small pile of the corn in the center of a warmed soup bowl, pour the soup around, drizzle with some cilantro oil, and finally, sprinkle with a little crumbled feta.