We planted one pepper plant and two different chilli plants in the greenhouse this year. Disappointingly they all turned out the same and produced exactly the same kind of peppers. So much for the cheap plantlings at B&Q! On the other hand, B&Q probably did us a favour as we do use a lot of peppers but not that many chillies.
We took all our ripe peppers to France with us to use up, rather than just leave them on the plant where they may or may not have been edible by the time we got back. With them I made some red pepper and lime soup.
I have only been making soup for the last few years. Before then I always believed it to be a bit of a palaver and not worthwhile for two people when all you have to do is open a tin. I was converted when I stumbled across Nigella Lawson’s recipe for vegetable soup and discovered that soup is one of the easiest things to make, a great way to use a glut of vegetables or a mixture of what’s in the fridge. All you need is a really large pan, such as a stockpot, which makes the job much easier than trying to keep all the ingredients from spluttering over the side of a normal large saucepan.
You make this soup from the same basic recipe as Nigella’s. Add chopped vegetables (the peppers) to a cooked, chopped onion, add stock, seasoning and cook.
This is one of my favourite soups, if only for the fabulous colour. The lime gives it a lovely fresh flavour and it goes beautifully with some fresh crusty bread.
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
4 large red peppers, deseeded and chopped
1 tblsp olive oil (or a squirt of Flora Cuisine)
1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)
1 small red chilli, sliced (optional – I didn’t use it this time as I didn’t have one)
a good squirt of tomato purée
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock (I use Marigold stock powder, which is gluten free)
juice and zest of one lime
Heat the oil in a large pan or stock pot, add the onion and cook without browning for a few minutes until soft. Add the peppers, garlic and chilli and cook with the lid on for about five minutes until the peppers are just soft, shaking the pan occasionally so they don’t catch.
Add the stock and tomato purée, cover and cook at a low simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Either allow the soup to cool and transfer to a food processor, or use a stick blender to blitz the soup directly in the pan. If you like your soup completely smooth, pass it through a sieve. (I don’t mind the odd small lump so I never bother with this.)
Add the lime and reheat gently in the pan. Go easy on the lime ~ try half of the zest and juice first and taste it. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot with some of your favourite bread.
Serves 6. Keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days. Can also be frozen.