Roasted Red Pepper Soup

serves 6

6 red bell peppers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon red hot chili pepper
4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons very dry sherry
⅓ cup mascarpone cheese (use cream cheese if you can't find mascarpone)

Turn oven to broil. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty foil.  

Cut peppers in half and remove seeds and stems. Place peppers cut side down on the foil lined pan. Broil for about 20 minutes, until the skin is blackened (halfway through, take a spatula and press down on the peppers, flattening them so they blacken evenly).  Remove from oven, leave them on the baking sheet and cover with foil and let steam for 10 minutes. Remove foil. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the skins. 

Put olive oil, onion, sea salt and both peppers in a large saucepan and cook slowly over low heat until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the roasted peppers, broth, basil and sherry and simmer gently, covered, for 15 minutes. 

If you have an immersion blender, place the blender inside the pot and puree the soup.  If you don't have an immersion blender, you will have to transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree.  Return the soup back to the pot and add the cheese and stir over low heat until the cheese is melted.  Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning if you need to. 

The Italian Dish