Sunday, September 14, 2014

Chilled Red Pepper Soup with Yogurt and Herbs by Ottolenghi for Souper (Soup, Salad and Sammie) Sundays

Yotam Ottolenghi's recipes always intrigue me with their combination of ingredients. I love sage and I love cumin but I wouldn't think to partner them in a red pepper soup, add some heat with chilli flakes, then top it with a mix of chopped basil and parsley. It all works together though and it is especially nice to eat slightly chilled in the unending humid weather we have been having.  

Chilled Red Pepper Soup
Adapted from
(Serves 4)

1 large onion
3 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish (I used 2 Tbsp)
8 sage leaves, finely chopped
4 large red peppers
2 bay leaves
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp caster sugar (I used agave)
pinch of dried chilli flakes
500ml (16.9 oz) chicken or vegetable stock
1 celery stick, cut into 1.5cm dice
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed (I used 2 small cloves, adding them with the peppers)
25g (.88 oz) basil leaves, roughly chopped
10g (.35 oz) (flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
100g (3.5 oz) soured cream (I used Greek Yogurt)

Peel the onion and chop it roughly. Heat up the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and sage and sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent.

While the onion is cooking, halve the peppers lengthways. Take a half of one pepper, remove the seeds and white flesh and cut it into 1.5cm dice. Keep it for later.
Remove the seeds from the rest of the peppers, roughly chop them and stir into the saucepan with the onions. Add 3/4 a teaspoon of salt, bay leaves, ground cumin, sugar and chilli. Sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a light simmer. Cover the pot and cook on a very low heat for 15 minutes.

Once the peppers are soft, remove the bay leaves from the soup. While still hot, use a liquidiser or a hand stick blender to pulverise the soup until it is totally smooth. This may take a few minutes. Leave to cool down a little. Once the soup is just warm, stir in the celery, diced red pepper, lemon zest and garlic. Leave until it comes to room temperature and then refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Remove the soup from the fridge half an hour before serving. Stir well, taste and adjust the seasoning. Divide into serving bowls, sprinkle over a generous amount of chopped basil and parsley, add a spoonful of sour cream per portion and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Notes/Results: I love all of the layers of flavor in this soup--it starts out savory and slightly smoky from the cumin, then there is a touch of sweetness, the refreshing bite of the herbs kicks in, and finally the slow heat from the chilli flakes--yum! Love the creaminess that stirring in the sour cream (or yogurt in my case) gives it, but the soup is perfectly good without too if you are eliminating the dairy (or you could use a non-dairy sour cream). I also like the crisp small bites of celery and red pepper mixed into to contrast all of that creaminess. I pretty much followed Ottolenghi's recipe--just reduced the oil slightly, swapped out a couple ingredients and I added my garlic with the red peppers to take the "edge" off instead of at the end. I tasted this warm, right from the fridge, and set out a half hour before eating which Ottolenghi recommends and although it was good at all temperatures, I think he has the right idea--the flavors come out more when it is chilled but not too cold. Gorgeous color, great taste, full of vitamin C and a host of other nutrients, I would definitely make this again.  

This coming week is Potluck at I Heart Cooking Clubs--the chance to make any recipe from our current chef Nigel Slater or any of our previous chefs. This Yotam Ottolenghi soup will be linked there once the post goes live.

Soups and salads await in the Souper Sundays kitchen this week--let's see who is here.

It's a three-soup week for Mireille of Chef Mireille's East West Realm starting with this Laotian Chicken Noodle Soup. She says, "Serve with lime wedges and  fish sauce on the side for each person to add, as desired. Fish sauce is used to add salt, when needed so fish sauce is always on a Laotian table. Squeeze the lime juice inside and enjoy - I LOVED this soup and this will be my new way of making Chicken Noodle Soup. It's a mixture of varying flavors and textures that Southeast Asian cuisine is known for."

Mireille's second bowl is this hearty Curried Red Lentil Soup. She says, "This switch on the average lentil soup is taken from Maddur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian cookbook. This makes a Vegan thick and creamy soup. It is so thick it can be even used as a warm dip. If you find it too thick, simply add some more water or broth. The soup was complemented by these Flax Wheat Rolls."

Her final soup is a Jordanian Freekeh Soup and Mireille says, "This grain is a staple of the Middle East and is not new to them in any way. Here is a simple soup with this grain that's wonderful to enjoy on cold winter days. Usually, fine or crushed freekeh is used in soups and the whole grain is reserved for pilaf style preparations. However, I only had the whole grain so used that one and just cooked the soup for a little longer until they were tender."

Janet of The Taste Space shares this gloriously green and healthy Lemon-Cilantro Broccoli and Chickpea Salad. She says, "One of my more popular salads is my spin on Whole Foods’ Detox Salad. I used lime and cilantro to complement the riced vegetables. I named mine “Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad with Lime and Cilantro” because I cringe when I hear the name “Detox Salad”.

Pam of Sidewalk Shoes brings another gorgeously green salad, this Three-Bean Salad with Cilantro-Chile Dressing. She says, "Well, it wouldn’t be a picnic without a three bean salad!  But this is not your mother’s three bean salad!  This includes edamame, chickpeas and cilantro, ingredients my mother probably has never used, even today.  This was such a refreshing change of pace from the usual bean salads.  I love the blend of the different beans and the cilantro dressing really freshens it up."

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on my side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. I am always looking for ways to use my sage!

  2. I've been crushing on this soup for a while! The vibrant red color and roasted pepper flavor just sound awesome in soup form.

  3. When I first saw the soup I thought it goat cheese in the middle. Sour cream works too! Nice choice.

  4. Yes Tina, I think yogurt, sour cream, goat cheese or even crème fraîche would work well in this soup.

  5. I am a sage fan too Pam. ;-)

  6. I have had my eye on it for a while too Joanne--it was worth the wait. ;-)

  7. This is such a beautiful vibrant soup! The wonderful combination of spices, herbs and veggies, so much of flavour! Looks really good, Deb!

  8. I have to get back in the kitchen with Ottolenghi. I think the cumin/sage combination sounds intriguing. He certainly puts his stamp on each and every recipe!

    Love all the bean salads in this roundup. I've been making bean salads for lunch and will bookmark both of these.

  9. Gorgeous soup! The combination of flavourings does sound unusual but I trust Ottolenghi to make things delicious.

  10. THIS looks so good. And warming. And comforting.

  11. Couscous & ConsciousnessSeptember 29, 2014 at 8:29 AM

    Gorgeous looking soup, Deb. Isn't that so typical of Ottolenghi? - He takes some flavour profiles you think you know and understand, and then turns them on their head!! I don't know how he pulls it off, but it's always extraordinary.


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