A dear friend was experiencing tough times, but he made this wonderful Autumnal Soup as one of his first experiments with cooking solo again! It was an instant success and did the rounds of many friends.
About 2 decades after first making this soup, I discovered its origin – it is from Cooking with Kurma by Kurma Das. Kurma is a Hare Krishna vegetarian cook and replaces all onions and garlic with asafoetida – that solves the puzzle of why this very Indian ingredient features in a Mexican-style soup. Feel free to replace the asafoetida in the recipe with onions and garlic.
Bradley’s Roasted Capsicum, Tomato and Peanut Soup with Chipotle
3 medium red capsicums, cored and cut into quarters, with the whites of the ribs removed (approx. 400 g after trimming)
2 Tblspn olive oil
0.5 tspn asafoetida powder
2 dry chipotle chillies, cut into small pieces, or 1 fresh jalapeno chilli with 1 tspn Spanish smoked paprika
700g ripe tomatoes, peeled, deseeded, and roughly chopped
2.5 cups fresh coriander leaves, chopped
0.25 cups chopped coriander stalks
4 cups rich vegetable stock
2 tspn salt
0.25 tspn freshly ground black pepper
0.25 cup smooth peanut paste
2 Tblspn fresh coriander leaves to garnish
Beforehand: Preheat a grill. Place the capsicums with skin upward, under the griller and roast for 10 – 15 minutes until the skins are blackened and blistered. Remove and place the capsicums in a plastic bag to steam for 15 minutes. Remove from the plastic bag and rinse the capsicums under cold water, rubbing off the blackened skin. Chop roughly and set aside.
At the time of Cooking: Warm olive oil in a 3 litre pan over moderate heat. Sprinkle asafoetida powder and sauté for a moment only. Add the chilli, stir, and add tomatoes, capsicum, coriander leaves and paprika (if using). Raise heat and stirring occasionally, cook tomatoes, peppers and coriander for 10 minutes or until tomatoes break down.
Add the stock, salt and pepper, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter, mixing thoroughly. Pour soup into a food processor and blend until smooth.
This soup can also be made chunky-style. Skip the blending step in the recipe. This is good is you used onions and garlic instead of asafoetida (see below).
No asafoetida powder? Chop an onion finely with 2 cloves garlic. Saute until onion is transparent before adding the chilli and continuing the recipe from there.
Want to use real peanuts? Perfectly reasonable. Add about 1/2 cup unsalted, shelled peanuts for the last 10 mins of cooking. OR make your own peanut butter by blending a cup of peanuts in the food processor with some peanut oil slowly added until the right consistency is achieved. Add 1/4 cup to the soup.