It is truly Autumn now, in that Adelaide sort of way, where the cold blues of summer disappear and the warm rich tones of autumn gradually make their way into one’s heart. Leaves of yellow and red and brown. Ash white of garlic skins. Red of pears, brown of pears. Red and green of apples. Yellow of quinces, red of pomegranates. The palette of autumn is magnificent indeed when in its full glory. And the scents! Apples, quinces, autumn roses. The last of coriander. Bog sage blowing blue in the breeze. Onion flowers wafting around. Tomatoes, the last of, so very sweet and juicy in autumn without that stark drying heat of summer.
Autumn is an ending. The last flourishes of all that was Summer makes it a sweet ending. It clears the way for winter but I want it never to end.
Bradley’s Roasted Capsicum, Tomato and Peanut Soup
I had a dear friend whose marriage ended while he was in the last bits of his PhD. It so often happens. The intensity of that time for PhD students puts pressures on all other areas of their lives. We supported each other through that time, and he made this wonderful Autumnal Soup as one of his first experiments with cooking alone! It was an instant success and did the rounds of many friends.
3 medium red capsicums, cored, deribbed and quartered (approx. 400 g after trimming)
2 Tblspn olive oil
0.5 tspn asafoetida powder
2 dry chipotte chillies, cut into small pieces, or 1 fresh jalapeno chilli with 1 tspn Spanish smoked paprika (I just use whatever chillies I have at hand with the smoked paprika – I love that smoky taste in the soup)
700g ripe tomatoes, peeled and deseeded if you can bother, and roughly chopped.
2.5 cups fresh coriander leaves, chopped
0.25 cups chopped coriander stalks
4 cups rich vegetable stock
2 tspn salt
0.25 tspn freshly ground black pepper
0.25 cup smooth peanut paste
2 Tblspn fresh coriander leaves to garnish
Beforehand: Preheat a grill. Place the capsicums with skin upward, under the griller and roast for 10 – 15 minutes until the skins are blackened and blistered. Remove and place the capsicums in a plastic bag to steam for 15 minutes. Remove from the plastic bag and rinse the capsicums under cold water, rubbing off the blackened skin. Chop roughly and set aside.
At the time of Cooking: Warm olive oil in a 3 litre pan over moderate heat. Sprinkle asafoetida powder and sauté for a moment only. Add the chilli, stir, and add tomatoes, capsicum, coriander leaves and paprika (if using). Raise heat and stirring occasionally, cook tomatoes, peppers and coriander for 10 minutes or until tomatoes break down.
Add the stock, salt and pepper, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter, mixing thoroughly. Pour soup into a food processor and blend until smooth.
No asafoetida powder? Chop an onion finely with 2 cloves garlic. Saute until onion is transparent before adding the chilli and continuing the recipe from there.
Want to use real peanuts? Perfectly reasonable, and I have done this. Add about 1/2 cup unsalted, shelled peanuts for the last 10 mins of cooking. OR make your own peanut butter by blending a cup of peanuts in the food processor with some peanut oil slowly added until the right consistency is achieved. Add 1/4 cup to the soup.
- Shimla Mirch Ka Salan (Capsicum in Spicy Peanut Gravy) (desifoodbuzz.com)
- Peanut Coriander Chutney (desifoodbuzz.com)
- African Yam & Peanut Soup with Ginger and Pineapple (desifoodbuzz.com)