If winter comes, can spring be far behind?
It's the old question made famous by Percy Bysshe Shelley in his poem, Ode to the West Wind, which used to be required reading in high school.
It always seemed to me that people quote that line as if to soothe us through the cold and bitter days, to remind us that warm weather eventually comes and it won't be as long as it seems when you're bundled up in down coats and covered with scarves, hats, gloves and furry boots but still shivering because it feels like it's zero degrees out and the wind is blowing in your face.
But in actuality, my answer is, yes. Spring can be far behind. 66 days in fact. Well after the groundhog jumps back into his hole and whether or not he/she sees its shadow.
That means lots of hot, warming, comforting food is required to help keep us warm and feel secure and cozy.
Soup, for example.
Like this one, which is hot in two ways. First, it's seasoned with spicy chipotle pepper and a lush garnish of toast croutes loaded up with Sincerely Brigitte Chipotle cheddar cheese. Second, it's served piping hot for lunch or as a first course for dinner.
Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Chipotle Cheese Croutes
- 6 medium red bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 medium cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder
- 5 cups vegetable stock
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup half and half cream or coconut milk
- cheese croutes
Preheat the broiler. Place the peppers under the broiler, about 4-6" away from the heat. Broil for 2-3 minutes, until the skin has blistered. Turn the peppers and repeat this process until the entire surface is blistered and lightly charred. Remove the peppers and place them in a paper bag or wrap them in aluminum foil. Let rest at least 10 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag, peel off the skin and discard the stem and the seeds. Cut the peppers into pieces and set aside. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the onion and celery and cook for about 4 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the garlic and cook briefly. Add the red pepper pieces, potatoes, parsley, chipotle powder and stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Puree the ingredients in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Stir in the cream and cook for 3-4 minutes or until hot. Serve with the cheese croutes.
Makes 8 servings
- 16 (1/2-inch thick) slices French bread
- olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 large clove garlic, cut in half
- 7 ounces Sincerely Brigitte Chipotle Cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the bread slices on a cookie sheet. Brush the bread tops with the olive oil and rub the surfaces with the cut side of the garlic. Bake for about 15 minutes, turning them over once about halfway through. Remove the bread slices from the oven. Just before serving, place equal amounts of the grated cheese on top of each bread slice. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Place two croutes on top of each bowl of soup.