Cream of Leek and Roasted Bell Pepper Soup

Yesterday I just couldn’t warm up. Seriously, the house was 70 degrees and I was wearing three layers, including a fleece vest and I still felt cold. I’m sure it had nothing to do with all the snow on the ground…It’s been a fun few days with the schools closed all week and all the sledding, sledging, tobogganing (whatever you like to call it…) has been making me nostalgic about growing up in Ontario — Canada, not California, for my American friends. (The nostalgia has also been feeding my current obsession with the Hipstamatic iPhone app).

The topper was heading into the grocery store and finding myself in the newly designated “British Specialties” section wistfully looking at chocolate bars I haven’t eaten in years…Flake, Dairy Milk, Aero, Aero Mint. It was the mint Aero that really took me back because it’s probably been 25 years. Couldn’t resist. And then after I had eaten it I decided I wanted to take a photo and naturally had to go and buy sweetly ask Bob to go back to the store for another one.

One bite and I was also reminded of these ‘Parfait Mints’ my grandmother used to buy every Christmas. They might have been Laura Secord, but I’m not sure….little pastel-coloured piped white chocolate drops in a white box with a window in the shape of a tall parfait glass. So my mind wandered for a while…kind of how this post has wandered…

Cold days call for soup so I started rummaging through the fridge to see what I could come up with. Leeks that I bought almost a week ago, and some baby bell peppers that we weren’t using up fast enough. With some fried polenta on the side for the kid who will probably not have more than a taste of the soup. That’ll work.

Cream of Leek and Roasted Bell Pepper Soup

4 large leeks, sliced, white parts only
1/3 cup sliced mushrooms
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup roasted bell peppers (the pile of mini peppers in the picture became about 1/2 cup after being roasted)
3 1/2 cups broth (I used two 14 oz cans of chicken stock but you could use any stock)
white wine to deglaze
2 tsp dried sage
2 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste
heavy cream – to taste

It’s more efficient and less fiddly to use regular bell peppers but I happened to have all these mini ones. Slice the peppers in half or quarters lengthwise, remove seeds and place skin up on a cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil and put them under the broiler until the skin blackens and blisters. Meanwhile, you can prep the leeks and mushrooms.  When the peppers come out of the oven, cook the leeks, mushrooms and garlic over medium heat in the bottom of your soup pot with a blob of butter. While the leeks and mushrooms are slowly sweating, peel the skin off of the cooled peppers. Then add them to the pot along with the sage and thyme and stir it around for another 2-3 minutes or so.

Add in a glug of white wine to deglaze and let it simmer for about 5 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Then add the stock and let it all bubble for a few more minutes. When everything is soft, you can pour it into a blender or use a hand blender right in the pot. Puree until smooth. Slowly stir in the heavy cream if you use it. I ended up using about 1/2 cup. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The photo at the top makes it look much greener than it actually was…it’s just the photo. Here’s another:

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