1. Rich red pepper soup

    Rich roast peppers and tomatoesThis richly-flavoured, lightly-spicy soup is perfect for the harvest season. It’s also versatile. It makes an elegant starter, when topped with a dollop of crème fraiche, and served in beautiful china cups or fancy soup plates. Or, it is a perfect light lunch or supper with a salad, or with just a bit of grilled fish or chicken.

    It’s dead easy to make cold red pepper soup. It gets a jolt of flavour from a touch of cumin and a hint of garlic. I use bottled red peppers. This avoids the tedious job of roasting and peeling them. I also use chicken stock, but vegetarians can substitute vegetable stock of good quality. Make sure you do not buy vinegared or pickled peppers.
    If you want to use fresh red peppers, roast them under a hot broiler until the skin chars black. Turn them to char them evenly; you can do this on the grill. Drop the charred peppers into a paper bag and close it, or place them in a bowl and seal it with plastic wrap for five to six minutes. This will steam the peppers, allowing you to rub the charred skin off with an old, clean dish towel. Them cut the peppers into strips, while discarding the stems and seeds.
    You may also use fresh tomatoes instead of canned. Simply wash, cut, and quickly stew the amount you need for 10 minutes on medium-high heat. Season the tomatoes to taste with salt, and then puree them.
    1 box (quart or liter) of chicken or vegetable stock
    1 cups /500 ml. tomato juice
    2 jars / 335 ml. each of red peppers
    1 peeled large carrot, peeled and diced
    1 medium onion, diced
    2 cloves of garlic, diced
    1 tsp-1 tsp of ground cumin
    1½ tsp sugar or 1 pkg. Splenda
    1½ tsp chili flakes, optional
    Crème fraiche or sour cream (optional)
    Sauté the chopped vegetables, but do not brown them. Drain the peppers and blot dry. Chop. Add cumin to the vegetables and chili, if you wish. Stir. Add peppers and sugar. Add the three cups of stock and simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.
    Purée everything until it’s smooth, and thin with a bit more stock, if necessary. If you wish it to be elegant, pass the soup through a fine sieve. I do not often bother to do this, as I like the texture. I puree it very well in a blender. 
    Taste to correct the seasoning before serving. It may taste blander when cold, and you may wish to add a bit of hot sauce, a dash of cayenne, and a bit more salt. Serve garnished with a dollop of crème fraiche or lemon slices.
    Guests will love the tangy sweetness of the pepper contrasted with the smoky cumin. I like to add a bit of chili, too. The colour shouts sunshine. You can taste how healthful it is!