Sunday, February 9, 2014

Creamy Red Pepper Soup with Labneh & Thyme Croutons for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I have been craving red pepper soup since I made this one for my trio of 'cleanse soups' last month. A good red pepper soup can't help but brighten your day with its vibrant color, sweet flavor and mega dose of vitamins A & C. Searching for a recipe, the first one that popped up on my search was Giada's Creamy Red Pepper Soup. What ultimately sold me was the topping of mascarpone (I subbed a thick labneh cheese made from kefir) and crispy baguette croutons. Although we don't have the cold and snow here that my friends and family on the mainland are dealing with, lots of drab grey skies, rain and a lingering cough and stuffy nose made this soup most welcome this weekend.

I made a few changes to the recipe--in red below.   

Creamy Red Pepper Soup
(Makes 8 Servings)

4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves (+ extra for croutons)

6 cups chicken broth (I used veggie broth)
2 (12-oz) jars roasted red bell peppers preserved in water, drained
1 russet potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon sugar (I used 1/2 Tbsp agave)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 (3/4-inch thick) baguette slices, cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (I used
Labneh Kefir cheese)

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, and thyme and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, bell peppers, potato, wine, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool the soup slightly.

Using an immersion hand blender, puree the soup in the pot until it is smooth. Alternately, working in batches, puree the soup in a regular blender, taking care while blending warm liquids. Season the soup, to taste, with salt and pepper. 

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add (thyme leaves and) the bread cubes and saute until they are crisp and golden, about 8 minutes.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Dollop a tablespoon of mascarpone in the center of each bowl and top with croutons. Sprinkle with pepper, (and extra thyme leaves) and serve.

Notes/Results: Gorgeous color, creamy, slightly sweet and full of wonderful flavor--a bowl full of soupy goodness. The thyme partners well with the red peppers and I added more to my croutons. Giada's recipe calls for mascarpone on top (you could leave off if you want a vegan soup) but, I really loved the tangy kick that stirring in the labneh added--you could also use thick Greek yogurt. Easy to make, so good and perfect to brighten a dreary day. I would make this again happily.

We have some good friends waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen with some terrific dishes to tempt you with. Let's take a look.

My friend and fellow Cook the Books host Rachel, The Crispy Cook, joins us this week sharing a good friend's soup recipe and saying "She's the kind of person that you gravitate towards because she just radiates warmth and happiness. ... Recently, Lois gave me her handwritten recipe for Vegetable Chowder. It's a versatile recipe that she makes with all kinds of vegetable variations. I of course wanted to make up a pot during our unusually frigid recent weather pattern, so I made sure to stock the larder with broccoli crowns. And sure enough, when I made this satisfying and thick soup, it made me smile almost as much as I do when Lois is around."

Tigerfish of Teczcape-An Escape to Food made Artichoke and Leek Soup this week and says, "The thought of artichoke soup usually brings me back to Duarte's Tavern, Pescadero, CA. Its artichoke soup is the best! Fresh and so flavorful. Not as if I have tried and tasted many artichoke soups from different eateries/restaurants to be able to say Duarte's is the best but IT IS. Today I am making a homemade version that is worth making the effort because there is really not much effort to begin with. It is easy to prepare and full of flavor. Best of all, it looks creamy but is in fact a "cream-less" recipe."

Janet of The Taste Space brings healing Kimchi Stew with Tofu and Mushrooms (Korean Vegan Kimchi Jigae) and says, "Anyways, this soup. Delicious. Not too spicy although this soup was a bit of a mystery to me. When I ate it right after making it, it was the perfect level of spice. I added the kimchi to taste, obviously. However, the soup was pretty bland as leftovers. The chiles had mellowed! To ramp the flavour back up, I added fresh kimchi to each subsequent serving. Definitely add to taste. Enjoy!"

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shares her Russian Herb and Cheese Salad and says, "This simple and flavorful Russian fresh herb and cheese salad is easy to make and a delight to eat. Boasting typical Russian favored ingredients, my colorful salad takes only about 4 minutes to prepare, Eat it as your lunch with a few gluten free crackers and a bowl of soup if you want something more filling. My salad was inspired by a recent visit to a Russian Deli which makes a huge variety of delicious homemade salads for their lunch fare. Each salad was made with fresh vegetables , fresh herbs , and spices. I was especially attracted to the salads made with fresh tons of fresh dill."

At Kahakai Kitchen I tried Donna Hay's quick and easy recipe for Tzatziki Salad this week and loved the blend of shaved cucumber, fresh mint and dill with a lemony yogurt dressing on top. Cool, crisp, refreshing and a perfect contrast to the heat from a piece of spice-grilled salmon. Yum! 

Foodycat is here with savory Cassia-Smoked Pork Sandwiches and says, "I made some not-entirely-successful steamed buns (recipe said steam for 15 minutes, these steamed for 55 minutes and weren't quite as done as I like. A woman could have starved). I split the buns, spread them with hoisin sauce and a bit of cucumber and spring onion, and the warmed-through pork. You can see the smoke-ring on the slices. Such a delicious sandwich! And it will be even better when I get the steamed buns right."

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 the sidebar for all of the details. 

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. Some really sophisticated dishes here this week. Love to have a little sampler platter of everything. Especially that Kimchee Soup!

  2. I had some leftover red pepper soup that I threw some leftover alfredo sauce in. Divine. I love your recipe and need to make this as soon as I am able!

  3. That red pepper soup is a bowlful of sunshine! It looks wonderful.

  4. I love that this soup has everything - veggies, creamy, crunchy...each spoonful must be heavenly!

  5. Oh yum, I love the colour of your soup, Deb. An oldie-but-goodie soup from my blog is something similar: roasted red peppers with butternut squash. Really good despite being so simple. :)


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