Recipe: Cream of Sweet Red Bell Pepper Soup

Sweet Baby Bells (I used grown-up bells in the recipe, but aren't these darling?)

Woo hoo! California Red Bell Peppers are in season! The bins at the supermarket are filled to overflowing with gorgeous ripe red fruit, and I came home today with a huge pile of peppers and visions of recipes dancing in my head. Soup, soup, soup! I know it’s summer and summertime isn’t soup time for some people, but I live in an area that’s chilly enough all season to warrant a good hot bowl of soup. This recipe is easy and comes together quickly.

The original recipe calls for all-purpose flour which I simply omitted, as cream does an admirable job of making a creamy soup without any assistance from wheat. You can even omit the cream if you’re fat-phobic or it doesn’t fit your version of Paleo; the soup ends up pretty creamy and thick even without cream. Not that I ever recommend avoiding cream.* (Mmm, cream…)

Green bell peppers are fine to use with the reds, but they will ruin the lovely color of the soup — red pureed veggies + green pureed veggies = brown soup.  When I’m not trying to impress anyone with a pretty dish, and red bells aren’t in season and thus pricey, I do mix in the greens as they’re generally cheaper (at least where I live). Orange and yellow peppers work perfectly with the red, though, and I encourage you to use them if you have them.

I use red, yellow, or white onions in my recipes rather than sweet onions, as the sweets have roughly twice the amount of carbs; yellows have about 14g per onion, while sweets have about 25g. In this dish I used yellow for its rich, complex flavor so it wouldn’t be lost under the peppers. Red onions are milder, and better used in fresh recipes like salads or on sandwiches.

The finished soup is also very good reduced and poured as a sauce over chicken, or with pre-cooked diced chicken dropped into it for a more filling, protein-rich meal.

*of course sometimes I recommend avoiding cream. Milk products can cause big time allergic responses, inflammation, and can have a significant effect on insulin. Cream and butter have far less of these effects due to the much lower lactose/casein content, but some people still can’t tolerate them. So why does dairy have to be so delicious?

Cream of Sweet Bell Pepper Soup

serves 4 – 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, diced small
  • 2 celery stalks, diced small (important to dice it tiny, because you don’t want celery strings in your creamed soup)
  • 4 red bell peppers, seeds and tops discarded, diced small
  • mixed Italian herbs to taste (basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage — whatever your faves are. I used basil, thyme, and sage.)
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water (or sufficient to cover peppers by 1 inch)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or almond milk, plus extra to garnish

Heat butter in large sauce pan at medium low heat. Add onions, celery, and peppers, salt & pepper, and herbs. Cover and simmer about 20 min or until soft.

Add chicken broth and water. Taste seasoning and make changes if needed. (The soup is going to boil down a bit and condense, so be aware that what tastes perfect at this point may be too much in the finished product). Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium, cover partially and simmer for about 30 min, until the soup reduces somewhat (about 1/3). Check spices again and make any last adjustments. If you adjust the spices, give the soup 5 more minutes on the stove to help the spice flavors meld.

In a food processor or blender (or with an immersion blender; love that gadget), process the soup in batches until smooth.

Add a swirl of cream when serving if you wanna be all fancy, and a sprig or two of fresh thyme or fresh basil. Ah, sweet peppery goodness.  🙂

Nutrition Info for 8 oz serving:
(all nutritional info on this site is estimated using Fitday.com and MyFitnessPal.com)

Calories: 205
Fat: 13g
Protein: 5g
Carbs: 15g (the original recipe clocks in at 25g)
Fiber: 5g
Net Carbs: 10g (original, 20g net)

With a swirl of cream and sprinkling of chives.

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