- 8 red bell peppers
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 stalk celery (thinly sliced)
- 1 medium onion (peeled and chopped)
- 1 leek white and light green parts thinly sliced and well rinsed in a colander)
- 5 gloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
- ½ cup brandy
- 2 quart vegetable stock
- 1 sachet (consisting of 1 bay leaf, 5 sprigs thyme, and 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns tied up in a cheesecloth bundle)
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoon minced chives
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 4 ripe avocados (peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch dice)
- 1 lime (zest only, as garnish)
- 6-8 steamed crab legs (substitute lump crab meat if you prefer)
- 8 lime wedges
Stem and seed two of the bell peppers, then roughly chop them. Set aside.
Char the remaining six bell peppers by laying them, one at a time, directly over gas flame, turning occasionally until blackened on all sides. Place them in a medium bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, set aside until cool; rub off the blackened skin, remove stems and seeds, then roughly chop the peppers. Set aside separate from the chopped raw peppers. You may alternatively use a broiler to char the peppers.
Add olive oil to a large stock pot set over low heat. Once the oil gets warm (not hot) add the chopped raw peppers, celery, onion, leek, and garlic. Allow them to gently cook in the oil, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Once they are very soft, but not yet browned, de-glaze the pan with the brandy, stirring until the brandy is nearly evaporated. Add the vegetable stock, as well as the sachet of herbs. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Remove from heat.
Using an immersion blender puree the mixture until very smooth. You may alternatively use a blender, working carefully in batches.
Strain the soup through a fine-mesh sieve; discard the solids.
Add the reserved chopped charred peppers, yogurt, chives and paprika to the strained liquid. Puree the mixture until nearly smooth with flecks of green chive and red pepper; season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper. Gently reheat the soup if serving warm, or refrigerate until chilled if serving cold.
Pour about 1-cup red pepper soup 8 shallow soup bowls. Divide the avocado evenly between each, garnish with lime zest. Serve with crab legs (or lump crab meat) and lime wedges on the side.
I prefer to let guests remove the meat from their crab legs at the table by providing crab crackers and small forks. But you could do this in the kitchen if you prefer, or serve the soup with lump crab meat.