Blood Orange and Roasted Pepper Soup -a Recipe

First, an apology, I'm rubbish when it comes to recipes. Apart from in baking, I see them more as guidelines, to modify and alter at will and dependent on the ingredients to hand. I also learnt how to cook by watching and helping my grandmother and mother in the kitchen. Neither of them followed recipes and, tend to use cupfuls, handfuls, pinches and dashes. Tasting, testing and knowing the consistency by feel or by eye is how they taught me. Initially I found this infuriating, but now, I seem to do the same thing and in turn infuriate friends when they ask me for a recipe or how I cooked something.
So tentatively, I offer you a recipe of sorts...

This is based on one of my favourite dishes, but turned into soup form. Spicy, smoky, fiery and sweet it brings a little pep and vim to the day. When in season I love to use blood oranges, but any type of orange will work well.

Ingredients for 4 portions

For the soup:
8 red/orange peppers
6 tomatoes
2 bulbs garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tsp Ras-el-Hanout or Harissa (Rose petal harissa works well with this)
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper
Water/Vegetable/Chicken stock to cover (approx 800ml)

To finish:
3 blood oranges, segmented
A generous hunk of feta cheese
A good drizzle of pomegranate molasses


De-seed and quarter the peppers, halve the tomatoes and place into a roasting tin with the garlic bulbs. Drizzle with a little olive oil and rub in with your hands so that everything is evenly coated. Scatter over Ras-el-Hanout (or harissa), to your taste; I use around 2 tsp but it does pack a punch. Roast in the oven at 175oC for approximately 45 minutes (depending on your oven), or until the peppers and tomatoes are soft and charred at the edges.

For a smoky flavour, leave the skins on -once blended, you won't notice them. Transfer to a pan, including the sticky juices from the roasting tin and, fire the cloves of roasted garlic from their charred skins into the pan by squeezing them. Cover with just enough water, if you wish the sweetness to permeate or stock for a more savoury flavour. Add the cayenne pepper for a bit more heat (not really necessary with a good harissa). Simmer gently for 10 minutes, blend and serve into bowls. If you find the consistency too thin, allow to simmer for longer.

Peel and segment the blood oranges, removing any seeds. Add to the soup with a hunk or crumbling of feta cheese and drizzle with sticky, sour pomegranate molasses. Enjoy with a warm wholemeal pitta bread or, add in some beads of cooked, large grain couscous for a bit of extra bite.


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