Do you ever have a craving for something satisfying and comforting, but light enough to power you through the day? Soup is always the answer in my book. Whether it’s served hot or cold, vegetable soups are packed with hearty flavors and nourishing ingredients. On a sizzling summer day, chilled soups are the way to go. As long as you have a food processor or a blender handy, you’ll have a restaurant-quality soup on your hands in no time!
Chilled soups are the perfect make-ahead appetizer or light lunch since they’ll benefit from a night in the fridge. The key to a cold soup is giving the flavors time to develop.
I was inspired to make my favorite Cold Red Pepper Soup with Summer Herbs during a summer in Provence. When you’re living in Provence and you have access to the freshest and most flavorful produce, you learn to make dishes that let the ingredients speak for themselves. This all-star recipe, packed with Southern French flavors, is based on the classic cold tomato soups that I ate throughout Provence.
The difference between my fragrant chilled soup and the more commonly known gazpacho, is that I prefer to cook the vegetables before pureeing them. This gives the soup a more vibrant depth of flavor compared to gazpacho, which is made by blending raw vegetables.
You won’t want to skimp on the herbs in this recipe! The glorious combination of fresh thyme, parsley, basil, and chervil is divine. Chervil has a delicate anise flavor that highlights all of the fennel in the best way.
For a quick recipe, this soup has layers of flavors that’ll only get better with time. Serve it simply with fresh black pepper and a sprinkle of herbs to garnish.
Cold Red Pepper Soup with Summer Herbs
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 6 large sweet red peppers (about 2 1/3 lb) roasted, peeled, and chopped
- 4 cups chopped fresh fennel
- 2 cups chopped yellow onion
- 2 cups chopped carrot
- 1 1/2 cups chopped leek (2 medium leeks) white and pale green parts only
- 2 tbsp minced fresh thyme
- 3 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 cups chicken stock store bought chicken stock is fine
- 1/2 cup medium-dry white wine
- 2 tbsp pernod
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh basil
- 2 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tbsp roughly chopped chervil
- In a medium-large pot over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chopped peppers, chopped fennel, onion, carrot, leek, thyme, garlic, fennel seeds, and bay leaves.
- Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are almost tender, about 20 minutes. Add the chicken stock, wine, Pernod and 1 tablespoon salt.
- Bring to a simmer, partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes.
- Cool the soup and remove the bay leaves. Puree the soup in batches in a food process or blender (a blender will make it smoother). Refrigerate until very cold, at least 5 hours or preferably overnight.
- Adjust the salt and season the soup generously with fresh black pepper. Sprinkle the basil, parsley and chervil over the soup and serve cold.
Having lived in both Texas and Manhattan during the summer, you could say I’m a professional when it comes to creating menus that will keep my guests cool and refreshed. This Chilled Red Pepper Soup is an awesome appetizer to keep your guests occupied while you’re getting the main course ready! I can’t wait for you to try this recipe. Like always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.