Red Pepper Soup

Today I was looking for a soup that would be just right for spring — fresh-tasting and not too heavy. I found this recipe, which has been in my cookbook for years but which I’ve never tried. It was just right.

It was so easy to make — just a few ingredients, let it simmer, then puree it and you’re done. That makes it perfect for a weekday dinner, but it’s so pretty and delicious that it could also be nice for a dinner party (make sure to add a sprig of parsley and serve it with crusty bread for wiping the bowl clean!). I recommend using an immersion hand blender to puree the soup.

You can also adjust the spiciness to your liking. I might add more cayenne pepper the next time for some kick…

Serves 4

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 large red peppers, chopped into chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cans chicken broth (14.5 oz. each)
2 tsp. lemon juice
Parsley sprigs for garnish

In a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add peppers and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft but not browned. Mix in cumin and cayenne, then add chicken stock.

Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and puree with blender or hand blender. Mix in lemon juice and add salt if needed. Garnish with parsley before serving.

Blueberry-Nectarine Smoothie

I’m back after a long absence, and I can explain. I’m pregnant and those food aversions hit me in the autumn, affecting my appetite in a big way. I didn’t know what I wanted to eat, other than fresh fruit and vegetables — and the odd vanilla shake. I certainly did not want to cook.

The due date is still about seven weeks away, and while the food aversions have mostly gone away, my appetite is still dictated by the baby. The other day I woke up and wanted nothing more than freshly squeezed, high-pulp orange juice for breakfast. But opening the refrigerator, I noticed a punnet of blueberries I had bought the other day and immediately knew what I wanted: a fresh smoothie. Here’s what I came up with, and it was delicious.

Put in a blender:
1/2 cup fat-free yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice
1 nectarine, chopped in chunks
Handful of ice cubes
170g fresh blueberries
Agave syrup, to taste (two thick swirls in the blender was the amount I used)

Blend together and enjoy. Makes 1 mega serving.