red pepper soup
Candied shallots make this deliciously warming soup irresistible! It takes a bit of effort to make but it’ll definitely be worth it when you tuck into it for lunch or dinner.

Serves: 4

Prep time: 15 mins

Cooking time: 35 mins

Ingredients:

For the soup:

  • 4 red peppers, deseeded and cut into quarters
  • 30g butter
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 6 shallots, diced peeled
  • 750g pumpkin, peeled and diced into 2 cm pieces
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • Leaves of one sprig of thyme
  • 1.2 litre good vegetable stock
  • 100ml double cream (optional)
  • Sea salt and black pepper

For the candied shallots:

  • 250g unsalted butter
  • ¼ tsp of cumin seeds
  • 8 (250g) shallots, peeled and sliced
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp honey

To serve:

  • 2 tsp chives, finely chopped
  • 30g pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 120ml low fat crème fraiche

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

2. To make the soup: Place the peppers skin side up, on a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the skins are charred. Remove from the oven and place in a bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to cool. Once cool, peel off the skins, and reserve the flesh.

3.Meanwhile, melt the butter with oil in a large, heavy based saucepan. Add the shallots, pumpkin and red chilli, season with sea salt and black pepper and sweat the vegetables for 5-10 minutes without browning. Add the garlic and thyme and cook on a low heat for a further minute. Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add in the red peppers and cook for a further 5 minutes.

4. For the candied shallots: Melt the butter in a small pan over a medium heat, add the cumin seeds and shallots and fry until soft. Add the ground cumin and paprika and cook the shallots for a further then 1 minute, stirring the shallot mixture all the time to prevent burning. Fry until caramelised for approx. 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with sea salt and stir in the honey.

5. To finish and serve: Blend the soup in a food processor or with a hand blender and adjust the seasoning to taste. Return to the pan, if a little thick add more stock and if you wish, stir in the cream. Gently reheat the soup and ladle into warmed bowls. Place a spoonful of low fat crème fraiche in each and sprinkle with the chives, toasted pumpkin seeds and candied shallots.

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