It’s July and it’s hot where I live. Is it hot where you are too? Well, when it’s hot it’s time to consider a few changes to your culinary habits. So I have a simple summer Chilled Red Bell Pepper Soup. It’s a great starter for an al fresco evening or even a light meal all on its own. Summer soups have a whole psychology about them that must be considered when choosing how to prepare one. One of these considerations is the balance of flavor. Cold food needs to be amplified. I don’t know why, but salt and acid seem to especially recede once chilled. Also, when it’s hot outside a bit of spice on the tongue tricks the brain into thinking it’s cooler than it really is.
So when you make this Chilled Red Bell Pepper Soup be generous with the red pepper flakes and taste the soup for seasoning just before it’s served.
Red Bell Pepper Soup
Cool and spicy (and properly seasoned) is a great place to start. However, there is more to summer soup than merely chilling something flavorful. A summer soup needs some pizzazz. As delicious as this Red Bell Pepper Soup may be on its own, the real star of the bowl isn’t the red bell pepper. It’s the big pile of fresh herbs on top. In fact, this summer soup has so many herbs that calling them a garnish seems like an understatement. The herbs atop this soup are more like a salad.
So, just like a salad, make sure you have plenty of flavorful diversity. You’ll want to have at least three varieties of herbs to wake up your overheated summertime palate. Choose basil, dill, tarragon, or coriander. From savory flat-leaf parsley to the green tartness of the sorrel – any combination of your favorites soft-leafed herbs will work.
It’s not as hard as you might think to keep a variety fresh herbs in constant supply. I clip or buy herbs once a week or so and keep them lined up on the top shelf of my fridge. I often stand them up in drinking glasses with a little water at the bottom – like cut flowers. Not only does this keep the herbs fresher longer but their grassy fragrance wafts through my kitchen every time I open the refrigerator. It’s a casual reminder to use a fistful of fresh herbs in whatever other unexpected ways I can. GREG