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Around this time, every year I have a need to turn on my oven, let the kitchen get nice and toasted, and roast some vegetables.
Then I had the need to mix them in a soup.
Courtesy of urban life, we don't have a grill and there are times when I really miss the bite and sharpness that grilled food has. I tried to double the smoked quality of the grilled vegetables by roasting carrots and red peppers in the oven until they were very well done and my strategy paid off.
The resulting soup was rich, smoky, and had some of the charcoal-infused flavor you wanted without having the taste of eating a piece of charcoal.
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I started by roasting a pound of carrots. I used to think a pound sounded a lot, but it's actually just 10 average-sized carrots and one pound fits on a baking sheet. By the time they're peeled, trimmed, and diced into one-and-a-half-inch pieces, and because they dramatically shrink as they bake, a pound turns out to be less than you think.
Before their trip to the hot oven, I drizzled them with a touch of olive oil and drizzled them generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Allowing carrots to caramelize very well, and roasting them to the brim of what some would call burnt, is truly desirable for soup preparation as it provides the finished soup with body and depth of flavor. If the vegetables are lightly toasted, the flavor is lost, and at that point, you can also steam them in the microwave because it is so much faster.
While the carrots were roasting on one tray, I roasted a gargantuan red pepper on another. I found the oversized specimen at Trader Joe’s, but if your pepper options are smaller I'd roast two. When roasting peppers, be aware that they wilt dramatically due to their high water content.
Don't make the mistake of trimming the bell pepper too small, or you'll end up with pieces of blackened charcoal and burnt red skin on the baking sheet, and you're wondering where the bell pepper you put in the oven went. For the medium-sized pepper, cut it into no more than four to six pieces. Mine was huge and seven slices occupied a full baking sheet before roasting, but they emerged from the oven occupying less than half the surface area of the tray.
I didn't flip the vegetables halfway through the roast for a variety of reasons. First, I claim laziness. I really didn't want to meticulously flip over 67 carrot bits with tweezers. Second, I wanted one side of them to be quite blackened by the taste aspect. And finally, I got distracted while they were roasting and realized after half the way that I would just continue folding the clothes instead of throwing carrots and peppers.
After the vegetables come out of the oven, place them in a Vita-Mix, blender, or food processor, along with a can of coconut milk and about half a cup of peanuts or about a quarter cup of peanut butter, and mix. The soup would have been finely pureed and a little textured, simply by pressing it into a food processor or going lightly with an immersion blender, but because I put it in the Vita-Mix, sooner rather than later I had an incredibly smooth puree.
The flavor of this soup is so layered and full of dimensions. First, the caramelized carrots add a touch of sweetness, while the peppers add a little heat and smoke.
The coconut milk adds a creaminess and, along with the residual olive oil that wraps the roasted vegetables, you are left with a soup with a little meat on its vegan bones. However, for those of you who aren't big fans of coconut-flavored food, don't worry because that flavor is the least distinctive.
However, the flavor of the peanut or peanut butter is quite different and once added, the pop of the walnut cannot be undone. I love peanut butter, but you may want to add it or the peanuts slowly just to make sure you like that flavor note; Or try almond butter or sunflower seed butter. I love the creaminess and richness of the peanut butter and it was welcomed with open arms. And open mouths.
I didn't season the soup with additional salt, pepper, or spices, other than the sprinkle that was added to the vegetables before grilling. However, it is possible to season with anything from cayenne pepper to cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic and curry. The options are wide and the condiments can be easily customized to taste.
While mixing, I added a tablespoon of agave and its clean sweetness counteracted the smoky and earthy grilled vegetables. Depending on how well your vegetables are doing, this may or may not be necessary. A pinch of maple syrup would also be lovely.
Garnished with vegan sour cream, peanuts, and carrots, this soup was hearty without being stuffed with that lobster chowder or potato chowder. The beauty of vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and almost salt-free foods is that I feel satisfied, not stuffed, after eating and am also not consuming water for five days to counter the sodium onslaught that I find is the case with most of commercially prepared soups.
The batch produces around 24 ounces, or about six generous bowls, so there are leftovers to some degree, without making a ridiculous amount so you don't worry that you'll be eating the same thing for days on end. On the other hand, the soup also freezes very well.
This hit the nail on the head so well I wouldn't have minded any more leftovers.
Roasted Carrot Peanut Red Pepper Soup (Vegan, Gluten Free, Soy Free)
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped into pieces about 1½ inch
- 1 very large red bell pepper or 2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and sliced 4-6 large
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- a 14 ounce can of coconut milk (I used Trader Joe's light coconut milk)
- ½ cup peanut (unsalted, salty, plain, honey roasted or your favorite kind) or ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of agave, maple syrup or honey, optional and to taste
- Optional condiments: those used are to taste: red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, garlic powder, onion powder, curry powder, paprika, smoked paprika
- Optional additional vegetables for roasting with carrots and peppers: garlic, onion, sweet potatoes, potatoes, squash, squash, zucchini, beets, turnips, parsnips
- Preheat oven to 400F. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with Silpats, parchment paper, aluminum foil, or sterilization sheets with spray oil; set aside. Peel and cut the carrots into about 1½-inch pieces, keeping them about the same size so they cook evenly; Place the carrots on a baking sheet. Cut the pepper into quarters or cut it into 5 or 6 large wedges, noting that the pepper should be sliced and kept much larger than carrots because it will shrink in size almost half when toasted and, if split, too small , just char. Put pepper slices on the other baking sheet. Evenly drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes (I roasted for 45 minutes because I was distracted; 40 minutes would have been better), or until the carrots are tender and browned and caramelized; the peppers will be soft, loose, and blackened around the edges. I didn't bother flipping the vegetables halfway through cooking, but you can flip them if you want.
- In the bowl of a Vita-Mix or blender, add the coconut milk, roasted vegetables, peanuts, or peanut butter, and blend until smooth and creamy, or leave this soup a little thicker and somewhat textured retained as desired. The soup is quite thick and hearty and can be diluted with additional coconut milk, vegetable broth or a little water if desired; I did not dilute it because we prefer a thicker soup.
- Try the soup and wait five minutes before seasoning, and season if desired (the reason for the wait is because you may think you need something, but your taste buds may adjust after a few minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to each person). the bowl before serving also works instead of salting the entire batch.) I prefer the pure flavors of carrots, bell peppers, coconut milk, and peanuts, and I didn't add extra salt or spices, but I found that 1½ tablespoons of agave balanced the smokiness of the roasted vegetables; however, season to taste.
- Optionally before serving, garnish with finely chopped peanuts or other nuts or seeds, a tablespoon of peanut butter, sour cream, yogurt, finely chopped red bell peppers or grated carrots, a drizzle of coconut milk or coconut oil, olive oil , fresh herbs, salt and pepper The soup will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator or can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Sweet Potato and Coconut Milk – Sweet potato soup inspired carrot soup, and instead of steaming sweet potatoes and using raw peppers, baked carrots and bell peppers are used. The two are quite similar, but roasting the vegetables gives the carrot soup a depth of flavor that simply can't be microwaved, but if you're short on time (or even not), the sweet La Potato soup is excellent. Between the two, I can't choose a favorite
Double cheese sauce and red pepper: I wish this sauce was soup, that way I could eat it by the tablespoon
Roasted Carrots with Peanut Butter Coconut and Ginger (Vegan, GF) – Carrots are dipped in coconut oil, peanut butter and ginger before roasting. The exteriors bend and the interiors remain tender. Photos don't do them justice
Cheezy “Hot Doritos” Sauce (Baked, Vegan, GF) – Red bell peppers play a starring role in helping me honor my childhood love for Doritos (Doritos liner really is what I adore) with this simple dip of 30 seconds
Peanut Noodles with Mixed Vegetables and Peanut Sauce (Vegan, GF) – If you like the taste of peanuts on your salty plate, this meal is ready in 5 minutes. Easy, vegan, full of peanuts, red bell peppers, fresh vegetables and everything tastes better when dipped in easy homemade peanut sauce
Do you have a favorite soup recipe or a favorite roasted vegetable recipe?
Feel free to link your favorites.
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