Let Us Eat Sweet Peppers the Color of Falling Leaves

'Tis the season of crimson afternoons and nippy eves, and we love nothing more than a pot of soup to take the chill off. But don’t reach for that winter squash or sweet potatoes just yet – there’s plenty of time for those items. Instead, consider the radiant and gorgeous sweet pepper, which is having its produce moment throughout October, or at least until the first frost.

We've all experienced the irresistible flavor bomb that is a roasted red pepper, and when pureed with potatoes, garlic and onion, it transforms into a dynamite soup, earthy yet elegant and slightly sweet. Best of all, dinner is ready in an hour and change, with top-shelf leftovers for the next day.  This year's long hot summer produced peppers with deep color and flavor intensity. Don't miss out!  Ballard pepper people include: Alvarez Organic Farms, Growing Things, Growing Washington and Magana Farms.

Roasted Sweet Pepper Soup

  • 3 medium-size sweet peppers -- any shade of red or orange will do
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 3 medium-size potatoes (about 1 pound; Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn, German Butterball or red-skinned are all great choices), peeled and quartered
  • 1 to 2 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Optional: A few lemon wedges for finishing

Roast the peppers: You may do this on a grill, on top of the stove in a cast-iron skillet or in a 400-degree oven.  Roast until thoroughly blistered and charred, at least 20 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover to create steam to help loosen the skins, at least 15 minutes.  With the help of a paring knife, remove the skins, but resist the urge to rinse --- you'll lose all that good flavor. Slice open the peppers and remove the seeds and veins, then chop coarsely.

Meanwhile, get the rest of the soup going: In a  medium-size saucepan, warm up the oil over medium heat, then add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is slightly softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the potatoes, thyme, water and salt. Bring to a lively simmer, then lower the heat, cover and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes. 

Remove the herb sprigs, add the peppers and cider vinegar and stir in the cayenne and smoked paprika. Puree until smooth and free of lumps: A stick immersion blender is particularly handy here, but a stand blender works well -- but you may need to puree in batches. 

Taste for salt and add more as needed. Reheat the soup and serve hot, with lemon wedges, if you like, for a finishing spritz.

Makes 4 servings.