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roasted yellow pepper & almond soup

Posted Jun 05 2009 5:07pm

I have had this recipe in mind for a while, ever since peppers started going for $.50 at the market. But I've hesitated to make it because I don't have blanched almonds and I had no idea how difficult it would be to peel almonds myself. I'm glad I finally went for it because, as it happens, it's easy to peel almonds. I only needed ten minutes for the whole process.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the almonds. Boil the almonds for about 2 minutes. Drain the almonds and plunge them into ice water. (Since there isn't room in our freezer to hold ice cube trays anymore, I just ran cold water over the almonds in a strainer, and this seemed to work fine.) Remove the almonds to a bowl. Keep another bowl or a trash can next to you to discard the skins. Pick up each almond and firmly squeeze on one end. The skins should be loose and the nut should just pop right out. They're slippery little buggers so watch out.

Roasting peppers is also easy and it really brings out the sweet, mellow flavor of the peppers. To roast peppers, slice them in half, remove the membranes and seeds, and place them cut-side down on an oiled baking sheet. Roast them at 425F for about 15 minutes, until the skin is beginning to blacken. Most instructions for roasting asks you to remove the skin, but I always keep it on because I like the flavor and I don't feel good about keeping food against plastic that is softening from the heat. If you want to remove the skin, place the roasted peppers in a plastic baggie and let them sit in there for a few minutes. This will steam the peppers to loosen the skins.

This soup was so delicious and extremely filling. One little bowl filled me up. We served it with homemade artisan bread. You can substitute another kind of pepper if you wish and other nuts might be good, especially walnuts. To cut down on preparation time, you can use bottled roasted peppers and slivered almonds, but I only needed 40 minutes as is.

ingredients
1 c. almonds, peeled

3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red onion, sliced
2 t. thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 carrots, quartered lengthwise and sliced
2 roasted yellow bell peppers, diced
enough vegetable broth or water to barely cover the vegetables (this came to about 3 cups for me)

minced basil or cilantro, to garnish

instructions
1. Heat 1 T. of oil in a small skillet and add the almonds. Toast them, stirring regularly, until they are golden brown and fragrant. Transfer the nuts to a processor and grind until a fine meal is formed.

2. Heat 2 t. of oil in a soup pot and add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, until softened.

3. Add the tomatoes, herbs, peppers and carrots and barely cover with vegetable broth or water.

4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the carrots have softened.

5. Transfer the soup to a blender or processor and blend until smooth.

6. Return the soup to the pot. Add the almond meal and stir thoroughly to incorporate it into the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with basil or cilantro and crushed red pepper.
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