Roasted sweet red peppers make flavourful soups and sauces

Sweet red peppers are vine-ripened green peppers. The ripening produces a sweet flavour in the crisp, juicy flesh.

Green, red, yellow and orange peppers are often referred to as bell peppers because of their shape.

A 150 gram pepper, with stem and seeds removed, contains nine grams of carbohydrates, three grams of which are dietary fibre, and it is a good source of vitamins A and C.

When selecting peppers, look for a fresh green stem and a smooth firm skin without wrinkles, slashes or black spots. Peppers will last about a week if stored, unwashed, in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Red peppers add crunchy sweetness to salads, soups, stews, kabobs and stir fries. They are also excellent stuffed and baked. They can be roasted or grilled whole and served as a side dish or used in soups and pasta sauces. Grilled red peppers can also be bought in a jar for easy preparation.

The softened flesh of roasted red peppers makes an excellent base for soups and pasta sauces. The roasting or grilling intensifies the sweetness and produces a slight smoky flavour.

To roast the peppers, preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Wash the peppers and dry. Pour one tablespoon of canola oil in a saucer and roll the peppers in the oil. Place the whole peppers on a baking sheet and roast, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Turn peppers and continue roasting another 20 minutes or until the skin is blistered and slightly charred.

Remove peppers from the baking sheet and place in a heavy paper bag. Seal the bag and let the peppers stand until they are cool, about 20 minutes. The skins will loosen and be easy to peel off.

Remove peppers from the bag, peel the skin and slice in half to remove seeds. Save the pepper juice to in-clude with pepper pieces. Cut into large chunks to add to your recipe.

Refrigerate peppers for up to two days or freeze. They can also be grilled whole on the barbecue and then peeled and chopped.

Roasted red pepper pasta sauce

  • 1 tbsp. canola oil 15 mL
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c. celery, chopped (including the leaves) 60 mL
  • 1/4 c. red pepper, diced 60 mL
  • 1 jar roasted sweet peppers, chopped 250 mL
  • 2 tsp. basil, dried 10 mL
  • 2 tsp. oregano, dried 10 mL
  • 1 5.5 oz. can tomato paste 156 mL
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice 15 mL
  • 1 c. baby spinach, chopped 250 mL
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1/2 pkg. rotini or pasta of your choice 900 g

Boil pasta. Sauté onions, garlic, celery, peppers, and herbs in oil over medium heat until fragrant. Add tomato paste and mix. Add lime juice and seasoning to taste just before serving. Add spinach, allow to wilt and then mix in. Serve over pasta. Serve over spaghetti squash for a lower calorie option. Adapted from www.food.com.

Roasted red pepper soup

  • 4 large sweet red peppers, roasted and chopped
  • or 2 jars grilled red peppers, chopped 500 mL
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil 15 mL
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 c. chicken broth or bouillon 750 mL

Roast the red peppers as described above or use purchased grilled red peppers. If using a jar of grilled peppers, add the juice to the soup.

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add garlic and onions. Sauté until onions are soft, about eight minutes. Stir in roasted peppers and continue cooking until peppers are soft.

Cool, then whirl in a blender or food processor, using an on-and-off motion, until smooth.

Return puréed mixture to saucepan and add chicken broth. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soup is warm, about eight to 10 minutes.

Spoon the soup into bowls and sprinkle with black pepper, cover and refrigerate for up to two days or freeze. Makes six servings. Adapted from www.chatelaine.com.

Roasted red pepper pasta soup

  • 3 large sweet red peppers, roasted and chopped
  • or 2 jars grilled red peppers, chopped 500 mL
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil 5 mL
  • 1 8 oz. pkg fresh mushrooms, sliced250 g
  • 2 10 oz. cans chicken broth 284 mL
  • 1 tsp. dried basil 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper 2 mL
  • 1 pkg. fresh cheese 700 g
  • tortellini, uncooked

Wash and roast the red peppers as described above.

Wash and slice the mushrooms.

Mix the roasted red peppers and juice, chicken broth and sliced mushrooms in a large saucepan. Season with basil, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Stir in tortellini and continue cooking eight to 10 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Serve with a salad and crusty bread. Makes eight servings. Adapted from allrecipes.com.

Roasted red pepper and yam soup

  • 3 sweet red peppers, chopped
  • 4 c. yam peeled and cubed (about two small yams) 1 L
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil 30 mL
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning 5 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper 1 mL
  • 4 c. sodium-reduced chicken or vegetable stock 1 L
  • 1/3 c. Greek-style plain yogurt 80 mL
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped 30 mL

Toss together red peppers, potatoes, onion, garlic, oil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a roasting pan. Roast in 425 F (220 C) oven, stirring once, until vegetables are tender and golden, about one hour. Cool.

Purée vegetables with stock, in batches, in food processor. Strain into a large pot. Whisk in one cup (250 mL) water. The soup can be prepared to this point and then covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days or frozen.

To serve, bring soup to a boil, cover and reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Mix yogurt and parsley in a small bowl. Add a dollop on top of each soup bowl. Makes four to six servings. Adapted from Canadian Living.

Betty Ann Deobald is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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