I’m something of an instinctive cook. I probably find easiest those aspects of cooking that are an art rather than a science. In a couple of weeks, when I can find the time, I’m going to share some thoughts about all those things it took me a while to figure out about baking sourdough bread – rough and ready science but the science is important.
Soups however are definitely an art. I rarely taste while I’m cooking. Smell takes me a long way but so does imagination. I can picture flavours in my head. And it was that which led me to this recipe.
One flavour I’ve become very partial to in the last couple of years is smoked paprika. Indeed smoked pretty much anything appeals to me. There’s a Persian dish I really like, mirza ghasemi, which is based around aubergine cooked over a fire. It’s wonderful. I’ll post that here as well when I have time.
However let me digress no further. The soup I dreamed up is very simple and it tastes beautiful. It’s based on oven roast peppers, tomatoes and garlic (though roasting the peppers over a fire would add a wonderful something).
It’s not complicated. Few soups are.
Ingredients (serves 4)
2 red capsicums
6 large vine tomatoes
½ banana shallot finely chopped
1 small or ½ large bulb (yes bulb, not clove) garlic
Lemon (or lime juice)
Toasted sesame oil
1 tsp Smoked paprika (hot or sweet as preferred)
Oven roast the capsicums, tomatoes and garlic until well done. Watch the garlic carefully. The peppers and tomatoes will probably need 30-35 minutes, the garlic rather less – so check it after 10, 15 and 20 minutes. When soft take it out of the oven.
Put the shallots in the pan with a splash of olive oil and soften. Then add the roast garlic. When they’ve had the sting taken out of their flavours (the roast garlic should already be pretty mellow) add another splash of oil – this time toasted sesame and the smoked paprika. I used a teaspoon of sweet (mild) smoked paprika and about a third of a teaspoon of hot, just for the kick. I happen to have both. If in doubt just get the mild one. Take off the heat or keep the heat low – all you want to do is key the flavours into the onion, not cook them.
The add the roast tomatoes and peppers. Cook them down, adding a little stock if the soup gets too thick. I added passata the first time I made this. It makes the soup too thick. Finally take off the heat, add crème fraiche, season with salt and pepper and add lemon or lime juice to bring out the flavours. Heat again but don’t allow to boil. Serve, preferably with a nice slice of sourdough.