Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Who Has Time to Do Preserving? I've Gotta Pack.

farmers' market red bell pepper
An oversized red bell pepper from the La Jolla Farmers Market.

This post was going to be about the joys of preserving late summer's produce for winter, especially red bell peppers. I had planned on extolling the virtues of making your own roasted peppers -- tastier, healthier, cheaper -- rather than buying them. That's not gonna happen.

roasted red peppers

In less than 20 hours, I'll be on a plane to San Fransisco for the BlogHer Food '09 Conference, where I'll be on the panel, The Meaning of Identity and The Value of Voice in a Crowded Food Blogging World, with Ree Drummond, Garrett McCord and Dianne Jacob. And before I leave, I have a few things to do, including:
  • Finish a chapter in my upcoming book.
  • Edit an upcoming piece for about a local farmers market.
  • Pack for the trip.
  • Freak out that I have NOTHING to wear for the trip and debate going shopping. Again.
  • Conduct an interview about how to cook tri-tip BBQ.
  • Try not to get sucked into the abyss, otherwise known as Twitter.
  • Make a batch of biscotti that I promised to a friend. What was I thinking?
  • Have a mini-meltdown that I'll never get all of these things done in time and blame it on Twitter.
  • Throw a half dozen protein bars in my carry on, so I can virtuously deny those peanut butter crackers and chocolate chip cookies the flights attendants will heave upon me.
  • Call Jeff and complain that I have NOTHING to wear this weekend.
  • Drink coffee. How else am I gonna get all this stuff done?
  • Hope that my Good Bite video for Quaker Oats is all set cause I had a good hair day when I taped it.
  • Watch the latest episode of Mad Men with Jeff tonight while sipping a gin and tonic with extra lime, because, after a day like this, I've earned it.
  • Lie in bed unable to fall asleep because I'm still fretting about having NOTHING to wear this weekend.
  • Wonder if they sell any good cocktail dresses in the San Diego airport.
Oh, and you should definitely make this soup. You'll love it.

fennel spiked red pepper soup

Fennel Spiked Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup

Makes 4 servings
Print recipe only here.

1 large yellow onion, cut into chunks
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, reserving a few for garnish
6 large roasted red bell peppers, diced
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (28-oz) can diced or crushed tomatoes with juices
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
a generous sprinkling of salt
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, warm olive oil. Add onions, and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until lightly browned.

2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet over medium heat, add coriander and fennel seeds. Toast until aromatic, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Add diced roasted peppers to the onions and stir. Add broth and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer. Add crushed red pepper flakes, toasted coriander and fennel seeds, and salt. Stir well. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Turn off heat and cool for 5-10 minutes.

4. Puree soup in two batches until smooth, and return to the pot over medium-low until thoroughly heated. Taste it; adjust seasonings accordingly. If desired, add more broth for a soupier consistency. Garnish each serving with some toasted fennel seeds and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Here's how to make roasted red peppers. Of course, for a quicker version, you can substitute jarred roasted peppers.
  1. Preheat a grill to high. Place peppers on the grill, rotating several times, until fully blackened (about 20 minutes).
  2. Place grilled peppers inside a paper bag and close the top tightly. Place the bag inside a large bowl (to catch any juices that spill out), for about 10 minutes. The steam will help the skins peel off more easily.
  3. Remove one pepper at a time. Place on a cutting board, and split open. Remove the stem and the seeds.
  4. Using a piece of paper towel, rub the skins off. If you have trouble removing them, then steam them a bit longer; otherwise, they should come off easily.
Note: If you don't have a grill, then you can roast or broil the peppers in the oven. You can even place them directly on the burner of a gas stove. Click here for more about roasting red peppers.

You might also like my:

Grilled Eggplant with Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade
Creamy Corn and Zucchini Soup
Healthy Chili
Red Lentil Mulligatawny with Apple-Celery Salsa

You might also like these red pepper soups:
Roasted Red Pepper, Lentil & Spinach Soup at Albion Cooks
Pepper Soup at eCurry
Quick and Easy Roasted Bell Pepper Soup at Farmgirl Fare