Thanksgiving dinner, no matter how I strive for a nutritional balance, winds up being a meal of excess. We all eat too much, even the good things. So afterward, in addition to homemade turkey soup, I like to have at least a few days of soup-and-salad suppers to restore our equilibrium.
Chunky vegetable soups are great but some of my kids like some vegetables but not others. By the time I eliminate all the “icky” vegetables I wind up with just a few ingredients and soup not worth the trouble of making. The secret to getting my family to really look forward to soup is to make it rich, creamy, delicious tasting—while making it dairy free. Two good examples are Bean Ham Bone Soup and Potato Ham Bone Soup.
Even better examples are my Roasted Red Pepper-Tomato Soup and Butternut Squash-Apple Soups. Both are not only dairy free but vegetarian as well. Today I’ll be sharing the Roasted Red Pepper-Tomato Soup, but stay tuned later in the week for the Butternut Squash-Apple Soup as well.
The Roasted Red Pepper-Tomato Soup started out as a summertime soup when sweet red Bell peppers were plentiful at the farmers’ markets and my husband Jim had the barbecue grill at the ready. I grilled until blackened the cored, seeded quartered red peppers skin-side down on the grill, steamed the peppers covered, then removed the blackened skin before adding them to the soup. Red peppers are good in and of themselves, but roasting and skinning them is transformative!
There are two other ways to roast and skin red peppers. The first is to place the prepared peppers skin side up on a broiler pan, spray them with nonstick spray and broil them until the skins are blackened. Place the hot peppers in a large bowl and cover with a tight-fitting lid or plate and let rest to steam for 15 minutes. Then remove the skin with your fingers. Rinse your fingers (but not the peppers—that would dilute the flavor) under cold running water. The second is to heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat, then add the sprayed prepared peppers skin side down in batches, transferring them to the covered bowl as each batch is done.
When winter came and my family clamored for this favorite soup I discovered a wonderful, work-saving product: Mezzetta Whole Roasted Red Bell Peppers. All the work is done; just drain them.
The resulting soup is creamy and rich tasting, but totally dairy free.
I like to garnish the red pepper soup any of the following: shredded Cheddar cheese, GF crisp corn chips, GF popcorn, dollops of salsa and sour cream or nondairy sour cream, crisp crumbled bacon.
- 8 large red bell peppers, stemmed, cored, seeded and quartered OR 2 (16-ounce) jars of Mezzetta Whole Roasted Red Peppers, well drained
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 quarts water
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Gluten-free corn chips or popcorn, for garnish
- If using fresh peppers, blacken skins by spraying lightly with nonstick cooking spray and placing in broiler. Broil until skins are blackened. Transfer peppers to a bowl and cover with a tight-fitting lid or plate. Let steam for 15 minutes. Remove skin with fingers. Rinse fingers, but not peppers, under cold running water. (Alternatively, blacken peppers skin side down in a cast iron skillet over high heat.)
- If using Mezzetta peppers, drain and add directly to soup.
- In an 8-quart pot over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add onions, decrease heat and cover. Let onions steam until tender but not browned. Add garlic and let steam for 2 minutes.
- Remove cover and add skinned roasted red peppers, water, tomato paste and salt. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Decrease heat, cover and let simmer for 1 hour.
- Remove pot from heat and remove lid.Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth and creamy.
- Ladle into large bowls and garnish with gluten-free corn chips or gluten-free popcorn.
A couple variations: Garnish with crisp crumbled bacon, shredded Cheddar cheese, dollops of salsa, or sour cream or nondairy (soy) sour cream. If sensitive to dairy or soy omit soy sour cream, cheese and dairy sour cream.
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