I have a great recipe for spicy roasted red pepper and tomato soup. I’ve tweaked one that was given to me years ago by a good friend to the point where I think I can call it mine now. For several years I made big batches of it in the fall, and then froze it for quick and delicious weeknight meals.
Last year, after the canning bug bit me, I decided that while freezing food worked well, I was restricted by the size of my freezer. After considering the pros and cons, I decided to invest in a pressure canner. For those who may not know, you are able to can foods that are considered highly acidic (such as peaches or foods pickled in vinegar, etc.) in a hot water bath—essentially a big pot of boiling water. But if you want to can foods that are not acidic (such as many vegetables or even meat) you need to do so in a pressure canner. They’re big, made of really heavy metal, and have a top that locks down like an armored hatch.
While I was anxious to try out my pressure canner I was also a bit nervous about it. While I understand that it rarely happens, pressure canners can explode if you don’t use them correctly. So, for my first attempt, I do what I usually do in situations where I’m unsure—I roped my friend and neighbour Jean into doing it with me. Fortunately she’s game for just about anything and she loves roasted red pepper soup as much as I do.
She also wasn’t phased by the fact that we were going to make a significant amount of soup—enough to last both of our households for the winter by my calculations.
So one weekend we went to the farmer’s market and loaded up on peppers and leeks, to the grocery store for canned tomatoes, and to my stash for garlic from my garden. The quantity of raw ingredients was fairly daunting.
In hindsight, I don’t think either of us really understood how long it was going to take to make that much soup.
Anyhow, we are a persistent pair and did indeed, with help on the roasting of the peppers from my husband, prep all of those ingredients…
…and made soup. Lots and lots of soup. Which we then ladled into jars and canned, batch by steamy batch, in the pressure canner.
Thanks to careful reading and rereading of the instructions, plus the watching of a few online videos, we did so without incident.
I can’t say that I would do that large of a quantity in one weekend again, but I will make and can the soup again. I don’t have to do it this year, as it turns out we canned more than a single year’s worth of soup the first time round!
Peppers and the other ingredients are plentiful at farmer’s markets right now, so here is my recipe for roasted red pepper and tomato soup. I haven’t included the pressure canning instructions as I’m not comfortable sharing a process I’m still figuring out (especially when it could kill you if done wrong), but you can certainly double or triple (or more!) the recipe and freeze a supply of this soup.
Jennifer’s Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Soup
- 8 large red shepherd peppers (about 4 lbs), halved
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large leek, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 Knorr Chicken Stock concentrate pot (it’s the only one I’ve found made with leeks, not onions, and I can’t eat onions so this is what I use)
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 1 cup of grated carrots
- ½ teaspoon red chilli flakes (add more if you like it hotter)
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
- enough salt to make it taste right
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (or however much seems right)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Sour cream or grated cheddar cheese (garnish)
Halve and seed the peppers. Break so they lie flat. Place skin side down on a hot bbq until all of the skin blisters and turns black. Place in a large glass bowl with a lid, and let stand for about 20 minutes. Peel peppers with your fingers. If you’ve charred them enough all of the skin will come off easily.Sauté leeks in hot oil in a large pot over medium-high heat 10 minutes or until tender; add garlic and carrots, and cook another minute. Add chicken stock concentrate, water, diced tomatoes, and chilli flakes. Use immersion blender to puree until reasonably smooth (or transfer to a blender in batches, and then return to pot). Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.
Stir in basil and next 3 ingredients, and cook 2 more minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in lemon juice. Serve with sour cream or cheddar cheese if you wish.
Yield: Makes 6 servings