Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Roasted Cauliflower and Bell Pepper Soup

I think the major reason people flock to the western coasts of California is the beautiful weather that we are blessed with. But looks like mother nature is playing games with this blessing that we have started taking for granted. It's been record lows this winter, and we have to turn on the heater every night! Well, not that I should complain a lot though, because a lot of my friends in the east coast have a way more hard time shovelling their driveways and uncovering their snow-clad cars in the morning, layered themselves in jerseys and overcoats. Anyways, one of the ways I think we can comfort ourselves against the cold is fuel our bodies with something hot, healthy and delicious. Yes, you guessed it right - Soups! Generally when we think about making soups, we go with chosen favorites like tomatoes, pumpkins, mushrooms, chicken or veggies in a creamy broth. But recently I came across a cauliflower soup recipe on Southern Living, and it caught my eye. I had also seen a tomato-bell-pepper soup on Coffee's blog, so I decided to combine the two and make this simple recipe for a rich, healthy and totally comforting Roasted Cauliflower and Bell Pepper Soup!! The best part is right from the time you start roasting the peppers in the oven, your kitchen is filled with a fragrant and soothing aroma. Combine that with cauliflower cooking in sauteed garlic and you have a winner:)

6 large red bell peppers
1 tbspn olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic - minced
2 tspn salt (adjust to taste)
1/4 tspn cayenne or red chilli powder
1 medium-sized cauliflower - cut into florets
1 tbspn sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice (adjust to taste)
freshly ground pepper
fresh chives - chopped, for garnish
1 tspn cream - for garnish

Turn on the oven with the broiler set to high. Arrange bell peppers skin side up on baking sheet. Broil, watching carefully, until skins are blackened, about 10 minutes. Remove peppers from oven and let them cool. Peel over a bowl to collect juices; set peppers and juices aside.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat olive oil on low flame. Add garlic, salt, and cayenne and cook for 2 mins. Add water and cauliflower. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 mins. Add bell peppers with juices and cook, covered, until cauliflower is tender, say 10 more mins. Puree in batches in a blender and add sugar and salt as per your taste. Finally add in the lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve the Roasted Bell-Pepper and Cauliflower soup while its hot, garnished with a drizzle of cream and some chives! I so enjoyed this soup last night, my legs folded under me on my couch, watching a series of my favorite show - "Friends"; I didn't even care that it was in the low 40's outside!(and yeah, that's chilly for California weather guys!!)

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