I think cold soups are a cool, collected way to start a summer dinner party. This one has the sweetness of the red peppers with the zing of the garlic, basil and chili flakes. If you like rustic soups, serve it as is. If you want to be more refined, strain it through a fine mesh sieve before cooling it. —cheese1227
8-9 cups of soup
Six large red peppers, roasted and peeled (If you are in a pinch, you can used jarred ones)
1 cup large basil leaves (Reserve the tops of the basil stalks for garnish)
2 Tablespoon basil infused olive oil (plus more for brushing the croutons)
1 ½ teaspoons chili oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups good quality tomato juice
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon white sugar
Fresh ground black pepper
Small loaf good French bread, cut on an angle for long croutons
3 Tablespoons of a good, aged cheddar, finely grated
½ cup of plain yogurt (if you can get goat yogurt, by all means, do!), thin this with a little milk so that it is about the same consistency as the chilled soup
Puree the sweet peppers and basil in the food processor and set aside.
Heat the oils in an ample heavy-bottomed saucepan. Sweat the onions until soft. Add minced garlic and cook for one more minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring all the while.
Stir in the processed peppers and basil, tomato juice and water. Add sugar and chili flakes. Bring to a gentle simmer and leave it there for 20 minutes to help incorporate the flavors.
Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool for 10 minutes before seasoning with salt and pepper.
Use an immersion blender to puree the soup completely.
Just prior to serving, preheat the broiler. Cut the bread on an angle no thicker than ½-inch. Bush both sides of each elongated crouton with basil oil and place on a baking sheet under the broiler. Brown one side each of the croutons. Remove them from the oven, turn them over and sprinkle the cheddar cheese over them. Return them to the broiler so the cheese can melt and brown slightly.
Portion the cold soup into bowls. Put 1-2 Tablespoons of thinned yogurt mixture in the center of each bowl of soup. Take a knife and make a swirl with the yogurt into the soup. Perch two croutons on top of the soup, garnish with the tops of the basil stalks and serve.
I am an excellent eater (I have been all my life). I’m a pretty good cook (Ask my kids!). And my passable writing improves with alcohol (whether it's the writer or the reader that needs to drink varies by sentence.). I just published my first cookbook, Green Plate Special, which focuses on delicious recipes that help every day cooks eat more sustainably.