Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Soup + Sambal and Cinnamon

At lunch on Friday, I saw a friend eating a bowl of thin, bright, gorgeous red pepper soup, and it looked so perfectly spicy, so very fall, that I swore I was going to make something like it this weekend. It helped that peppers are still at the markets -- actually, I was surprised by the amount of produce still going strong right now -- so we picked up a bunch of red peppers from Whitton Farms for this, a Moroccan spin on red pepper soup.
Sambal, the spicy ingredient in this recipe, sounds exotic, but it’s available at most grocery stores now. Just look for the jar with a rooster on it and a bright green plastic top. It’s basically a spicy, chunky, garlic sauce seen most of the time on the table at Asian restaurants. Pick some up next time you are at the store. It’s great in everything!
Roasted Red Pepper Soup + Sambal and Cinnamon
(serves four as a starter or two as a meal)
6 red bell peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil (more for garnish)
2 cups sliced white onion (1 medium)
6 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sambal (more to taste)
1/2 cup of white wine (We used chenin blanc.)
1 1/2 cups chopped tomato (1 medium)
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon local honey
2 cups vegetable stock
sea salt and crushed black pepper (to taste)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (to garnish)
Roast the peppers over a high flame on the outdoor grill or your indoor gas burner turning until the skin blackens all over. Take them inside to cool and then peel off all the charred skin under running water. Using your hands, pull out the stem and seeds. Set roasted red peppers aside. Sauté onion in olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat until they're soft and starting to turn brown. Add the garlic cloves, cinnamon, and sambal. Once the mixture is fragrant (about a minute) add the white wine. Continue to cook until most of the wine has evaporated. At this point add the roasted red peppers to the pot along with the tomato, vinegar, honey and vegetable stock. Carefully blend the soup with an immersion blender. Allow mixture to simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes. If it’s too thick, whisk in a bit more stock. Taste it to check the salt and pepper before serving. Ladle soup into a bowl and top with 1/4 cup crumbled feta. For a little extra richness drizzle the top with good quality olive oil. 


  1. Had this for dinner tonight! I had never roasted peppers on the grill, so I was a little unsure about time. It took 4-5 minutes on each of the four sides of the pepper. Great method! There was a lot of "juice" that sweated out of the peppers in the bowl I put them in to cool after roasting. I added it along with the peppers to the soup pot, which seemed fine but I didn't know if it would make it watery. I did a rough chop on the garlic, but wasn't sure if I should leave them whole. I don't know if it matters since you blend it. It took around 4 minutes for the wine to evaporate.

    We loved this soup, but it is really spicy. You may need a disclaimer, or just to let people know to use less sambal if they're not fire ready! The cinnamon gave it such a nice warm flavor, and the texture is great-silky and light. It's also a beautiful color! Really interesting flavor combination all the way around.

  2. Hey, we just had the leftovers for lunch. Although it was still spicy, it wasn't knock my socks off like last night. Not sure if it mellowed or I was just a little off yesterday. Thought you might like to know. I hope somebody else will test it. It's SO good!