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velvety roasted red bell pepper soup

by Jackie Newgent  |  January 29, 2012  |  2 Comments

Makes 8 servings: about 1 1/2 cups each

There’s no better time for a comforting bowl of soup than smack dab in the middle of winter. I love to make a big batch (like this one is!) and freeze it in individual servings so I can reheat a cup or two to take the chill off anytime—in practically no time. It’s a delicious way to boost veggie intake, too. But, do keep this in mind … though it doesn’t seem a vegetable soup could be bad for you, it can easily contain way too much sodium, unnecessary added sugar, excess oil, and a drowning amount of dairy fat. That was the case with the original version of this roasted bell pepper soup. But no worries now; this stunning new rich sunset orange hued recipe is gorgeous, good for you, and great tasting. Savory, sweet, and smoky … soup’s on!

Calories Saved: 270

6 large red bell peppers, cut each into about 5 large pieces each, discard stems and seeds
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, sliced
1 large red onion, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as a Chardonnay made with organically-grown grapes
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 large (10-ounce) Yukon Gold or red potato, unpeeled, scrubbed, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup canned, drained, no-salt-added organic cannellini or other white beans
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese 

  1. Preheat the broiler. Arrange the bell pepper slices in a single layer, skin side up, onto two large baking sheets. Broil one sheet at a time until the pepper skins are well charred, about 8 minutes per sheet. Transfer peppers from the broiler to a bowl, cover, and let stand until cool enough to handle. Rub off the charred skin.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the sweet and red onions, cover, and cook until the onions are fully softened, stirring twice, about 10 minutes. Remove cover, increase heat to medium-high, and continue to sauté the onions until lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the wine, then add the bell peppers, broth, potato, beans, salt, and 1 teaspoon of the thyme. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.
  3. Very carefully, puree the soup in several batches in a blender, until velvety smooth, using its hot fill line as a guide. Adjust seasoning.
  4. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with the mascarpone, sprinkle with remaining thyme, and serve.

Per serving: 250 calories, 14g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 25mg cholesterol, 720mg sodium, 23g total carbohydrate, 5g dietary fiber, 10g sugars, 5g protein


The “Before” Recipe

creamy red pepper soup
submitted by Jessica F (New York)

Makes 8 servings

1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 cups chicken broth
2 (12-ounce) jars roasted red peppers in water, drained
1 large russet potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
16 (3/4-inch thick) baguette slices, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  1. Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, and thyme and sauté 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 35 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the mascarpone cheese.
  2. 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 hot liquids. Add the salt to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and sauté until crisp and golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Ladle the soup into bowls. Dollop a rounded tablespoon of mascarpone in the center of each bowl and top with croutons. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.

Per serving: 520 calories, 34g total fat, 13g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 50mg cholesterol, 1300mg sodium, 44g total carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, 9g sugars, 11g protein

Tasteover Tips

  • Sometimes the simpler the better. There’s actually no need for carrot, sugar, or crouton; simply let the red pepper flavor stand out.
  • Select vegetable instead of chicken stock, when possible, for veggie soup … to keep it vegetarian and allow the flavor of the vegetable to be in the spotlight.
  • Go for white beans instead of mascarpone within the soup for extra creaminess and a touch more fiber for filling satisfaction. Use a thin-skinned potato, like Yukon Gold; there’s no need to peel it and it can provide more of a velvety mouth-feel than russets. Then add a just-right amount of mascarpone to finish the soup with rich flair.
  • Go fresh for better flavor. Using freshly roasted bell peppers instead of those from a jar means that you can lighten up on the sodium since they provide more of a burst of flavor and smokiness.
  • Use two types of onions for flavor layering interest. Make one a sweet onion—which has natural sugar–so you won’t need to add processed white sugar. And lightly caramelize both onions for extra sweetness.
  • Enjoy with warm fresh crusty whole grain bread on the side rather than a greasy crouton in the soup.


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