Wow, this is two Meatless Mondays in a row! This could be habit-forming. I have to say, I have been enjoying it. I can get a little tired of chicken and then chicken, so it's always great to find ways of preparing meat-free meals that are just as satisfying.
This soup is perfect for filling you up on a cold night. We've been getting hit with some snow this past week, and I tend to crave soup when the temperatures drop (or drop even lower than they were before!). I found this Red Pepper Fennel Soup on Food.com, and it was cited as having come from Rachael Ray's September 2007 magazine. I could not find this soup on Rachael's official website, though, so I have provided the link to the Food.com version down at the bottom of this post with my take on the recipe.
The soup starts with a leek and a bulb of fennel as its base. Since these are two vegetables we love to eat when we can get our hands on them, I figured we were off to a good start. I roasted my own red peppers for this; I feel like it's worth the extra time to do that instead of using a jar of roasted peppers. Fortunately, I actually did have enough extra time to do it this time! That's not always the case.
So you throw in your sliced red peppers, along with a sliced potato, broth, and some seasonings (I added fenugreek because I had just purchased some for the first time the day before I made this. I was looking for just about any excuse to try it out!). Let everything come up to a boil and simmer until the potato has cooked through. Then you pull out your immersion blender and puree the veggies. It becomes so thick and luxurious, and then you make it even more luxurious with the help of some heavy cream. I didn't want too much; the original version called for 1/2 cup, but I just put in 2 Tbsp. It was just enough for me. It made the soup slightly creamy without adding tons of fat.
To go alongside, you whip up some homemade pita chips in the oven. It's so easy; I do it every now and then, experimenting with different ways of seasoning them. This time, they had a mix of salt, pepper, fenugreek, and some fennel fronds on them. I overcooked them by a minute or two, so they were slightly charred. I thought that was actually pretty good in this case, since it matched well with the charred red peppers. I thoroughly enjoyed this meal, and was plenty full after one bowl. All that, and it was meat-free! Not shabby at all.
Red Pepper Fennel Soup
adapted from Food.com
makes 4-6 servings
2 roasted red peppers, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 leek, thinly sliced crosswise (white parts only)
1 small fennel bulb, with fronds, bulb finely chopped and fronds chopped for garnish
1 (1/2 lb.) potato, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp. fenugreek, plus more to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
3 pita bread, split and cut into wedges
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium Dutch oven, heat 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek and chopped fennel bulb and cook until lightly golden, about 10 minutes.
2. Add all the roasted pepper strips except 4-6, leaving the remaining 4-6 for garnish. Add in the potato, broth, salt, pepper, and 1/2 tsp. fenugreek and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the potato is tender, about 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, place the pita wedges on a baking sheet and toss with the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Sprinkle salt, pepper, a few fennel fronds, and fenugreek seasoning over the wedges and toss to coat. Toast in the oven, 6-8 minutes, until crispy. Set aside to cool.
4. Once the potato in the soup has softened and cooked through, use an immersion blender to puree the soup (or puree in a blender, in smaller batches). Stir in the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper. The soup can be served hot or cold, with the reserved red pepper strips and fennel fronds on top for garnish. Serve the pita chips alongside, for dipping.