Spanish Romesco Soup with Chickpeas

adapted from Minimalist Baker

Yield:  8 servings

2 red peppers (with skin and stem)

4-5 cloves of garlic (skin on)

1 cup raw almonds

1 28-oz can roasted diced tomatoes

1 1/2 Tbsp sherry vinegar

3/4 tsp spicy smoked paprika

1/2 tsp each salt and fresh ground pepper

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 to 2 tsp harissa paste (taste and add more as desired)

4 cups vegetable broth

1 15-oz can chickpeas (drained, rinsed, smashed)

Garnish:  Chopped cilantro, shaved parmesan cheese

Preheat oven:  350° F.

Line a baking sheet with foil.  Arrange peppers on one side.  On the other side spread the almonds and garlic.  Place in oven.  Roast almonds for 12 minutes.  They will be golden brown and slightly cracked.  Remove the almonds from the baking sheet and set aside.

Continue roasting the garlic for 7-8 minutes.  Remove and set aside.  Return the baking sheet to the oven and increase the temperature to 475° F. 

Roast the peppers until they have blackened, about 12 minutes.  Turn the peppers midway to char the other side.  Once charred, remove the peppers and place in a paper bag or wrap in foil to allow them to steam for about 3-4 minutes.  After steaming the peppers, peel away the skin, remove the core and the seeds.  Remove the skin from the garlic.

Put the peppers, garlic, almonds, tomatoes, vinegar, harissa, paprika, salt, pepper, and maple syrup into the blender.  On high speed, puree the ingredients until smooth.  Scrap down the sides of the container as needed.  Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired for additional heat, sweetness, acidity or salt.

Pour the mixture into a large pot.  Add the vegetable broth and the smashed chickpeas.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce and simmer on low for approximately 15 minutes.  

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish as desired with chopped cilantro and parmesan.