I'm not much of a red pepper soup guy. It's not that I hate the stuff, it's just that blended soups in general don't usually excite me. But I am a sucker for the traditional Indian spices which show up in this recipe from Bal Arneson on the Cooking Channel. And when you add smoked paprika, which I've been addicted to for months now, I just couldn't pass it up. I imagined a multi-layered soup, with a slightly smokey edge, warming and just slightly sweet from the peppers.
That's pretty much exactly what comes out. What I didn't expect was how little time it took to make. In under 30 minutes you can get this on the table. The peppers are sliced thinly and sautéed for only two minutes, before being cooked for ten minutes with stock.
The only ingredient that might be hard to track down is the asafoetida. If you're having trouble finding it, some sources recommend adding a little more garlic. I honestly just left it out. No one could ever accuse this soup of needing more flavor.
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon asafoetida (optional)
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, divided
- 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
- 3 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and sliced
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup white wine
- salt and pepper
Pour oil into into a large 12-inch skillet. Turn heat to medium. When shimmering, add red onion and garlic. Cook until onion is soft, about 4 minutes. Add garam masala, asafoetida (if using), mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, and paprika. Stir with wooden spoon, and cook for 10 seconds, or until fragrant.
Toss in red peppers. Cook for 2 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Pour in broth and wine. Bring mixture to to a simmer, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until peppers are soft.
Turn off heat. Transfer half of contents of soup to a blender. Carefully puree and pour into large bowl. Puree the other half of soup. Quickly rinse out skillet, and then pour soup back in. Warm over medium-low heat. Then ladle soup into bowls.
Place remaining tablespoon of cumin seeds in cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Stir gently until they just begin to become fragrant and lightly smoke. Turn off heat and sprinkle toasted cumin seeds over soup.