Do you have any cooking roadblocks? Like procedures or ingredients that make you run in the other direction? I think pie crusts and yeast breads stop a lot of people in their tracks. It’s understandable–they are time consuming and difficult to get right. You really have to have a “feel” for when they are ready. And who among us hasn’t been scarred by a traumatic experience? I once spent hours making a gorgeous, six-braid challah stuffed with dried fruit, only to have it turn out heavy as a brick with raw dough in the middle.
But for some reason, my biggest culinary roadblock has always been roasting red peppers. I’m really not sure why. It’s so easy! But for years, I’ve reverted to buying the jarred version. Maybe it’s because I once watched a former roommate roast a red pepper over our gas stove, with a spatula in one hand and a giant glass of wine in the other. The blue flame licked over the pepper and dangerously close to the roll of paper towels on the counter, and I imagined our whole apartment going up in flames.
This soup, which I saw on Joy the Baker a few weeks ago, and haven’t been able to stop thinking about since, finally made me face my fears (and stop being so lazy). Spoiler alert! Homemade roasted red peppers are so much more delicious than the bottled version. But you probably knew that. Also, you don’t have to use the kitchen burner method. For this recipe, you roast them in the oven until they are nice and charred.
It was really easy to “veganize” this recipe. I simply substituted soy cream for the regular cream. I think full-fat coconut milk would be even better, so use that if you have it. I also scaled the recipe up a bit so that I would have plenty of leftovers for lunch for the week. If you are making the cashew sour cream, note you will have to soak the cashews for at least 8 hours. Garam masala is a warm Indian spice mix. If you don’t have it, use 1/8 teaspoon each cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg.
- 5 red bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 small carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup soy cream or full fat coconut milk
- 1 cup whole raw cashews, soaked in water overnight or for at least 8 hours
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Large pinch kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray. Arrange the peppers on the baking sheet and roast, flipping occationally, until they are charred all over and beginning to collapse, about 30 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and seed the peppers (the skins should pull off easily). Set aside.
- In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are beginning to color and soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin, garam masala, and bay leaf and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the roasted red peppers and any juices and the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and fish out the bay leaf. Puree the soup with an immersion blender (alternatively, puree the soup in batches in a blender). Stir in the soy cream or coconut milk. Taste the soup and season with more salt and pepper.
- Drain the cashews and transfer them to a blender. Add the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and 1/2 cup of water. Blend on high until the mixture is completely smooth and creamy. Leftovers will keep for about a week in the fridge.
- You need to soak the cashews overnight, so be sure to plan ahead.