Roasted Red Pepper and Fennel Soup
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Serves: 4-5
 
Ingredients
  • 8 red bell peppers
  • 2 bulbs fennel
  • 10-12 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 TBSP + 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 TBSP fresh chopped fennel fronds
  • 6 TBSP fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 TBSP fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 TBSP fresh thyme
  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBSP granulated sugar
  • 3-4 cups water, as needed
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste*
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F., and line two baking sheets with foil or parchment.
  2. Cut the bell peppers in half, remove the stems and seeds, and press each half flat onto the baking sheets, skin-side up. Cut the fennel bulbs into quarters (set the fronds aside for later), remove the core, and cut away any gnarly looking spots on the outer leaves. Place on the baking sheets along with the peppers.
  3. Peel the garlic, and place in the center of a separate (smaller) sheet of aluminum foil. Pull the foil up around the garlic to create a bowl, and add 1 TBSP olive oil. Scrunch the foil tightly shut around the garlic to create a sealed pouch, and place on one of the baking sheets along with the peppers and fennel.
  4. Place both baking sheets into the oven on the middle and lower rack, and roast for 40-50 minutes, or until the fennel is tender and the skin of the bell peppers is wrinkled, rotating the trays once halfway through baking.
  5. Remove the baking sheets from the oven, and let rest for a couple of minutes, until the peppers are just cool enough to handle. Using your fingers, remove the papery skin from the bell peppers (the skin should separate fairly easily while the peppers are still hot. This is the hardest part of making this soup, but I promise you it is worth it. (For tips to make this step a little easier, see the recipe notes below.)
  6. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the remaining 4 TBSP olive oil. Add the onion, and a big pinch of salt, and saute for 6-8 minutes, or until tender. Add the roasted fennel, bell peppers, garlic (and all of the oil from the foil pouch), and stir to combine. Then add the fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and 2-3 cups of water, and either transfer the mixture to a blender, or puree using an immersion blender, until completely smooth. Add more water as needed to reach desired consistency.
  7. Season well with salt and fresh cracked black pepper, and add a dash of cayenne, to taste. (See recipe notes.) Serve as is, or with grilled cheese sandwiches, or a hunk of crusty bread for dipping. Enjoy!
Notes
*The first time I made this soup, I used a hot pepper I had on hand, which I roasted along with the bell peppers. The level of heat was very mild. Just a barely-there warmth at the back of your throat as you ate, which I absolutely loved. However, I have no idea what kind of pepper it was, and when I went to replicate the recipe I couldn't find any others like it at the store, so instead I used cayenne (the beauty of cayenne is, it's easy to adjust to your own tastes, whereas using a hot pepper you never know exactly how spicy it will be). I find about ⅛th of a tsp. to be just right for me, but start with just a pinch and adjust as you see fit.

To make the peppers easier to peel, place them in a bowl right when they come out of the oven and cover tightly with plastic wrap or foil. Let sit for 15-20 minutes, or until cool enough to handle, and the steam will help loosen the skins. Sometimes I find it helpful to place the peppers skin-side up on a cutting board, and use the side of a spoon to gently rub the skin off. Try to remove as much of the skins as you easily can, but don't fuss over it too much. It doesn't have to be perfect.
Recipe by Will Cook For Friends at https://www.willcookforfriends.com/2014/12/roasted-red-pepper-fennel-soup.html