Fennel Spiked Red Bell Pepper Soup

Toasted fennel and coriander seeds lend flavor and aroma to this roasted red bell pepper soup. 

Makes 4 servings

1 large yellow onion, cut into chunks
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, reserving a few for garnish
6 large roasted red bell peppers, diced
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (28-oz) can diced or crushed tomatoes with juices
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
a generous sprinkling of salt
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, warm olive oil. Add onions, and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until lightly browned.

2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet over medium heat, add coriander and fennel seeds. Toast until aromatic, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Add diced roasted peppers to the onions and stir. Add broth and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer. Add crushed red pepper flakes, toasted coriander and fennel seeds, and salt. Stir well. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Turn off heat and cool for 5-10 minutes.

4.  Puree soup in two batches until smooth, and return to the pot over medium-low until thoroughly heated. Taste it; adjust seasonings accordingly. If desired, add more broth for a soupier consistency. Garnish each serving with some toasted fennel seeds and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Here's how to make roasted red peppers. Of course, for a quicker version, you can substitute jarred roasted peppers.

  1. Preheat a grill to high. Place peppers on the grill, rotating several times, until fully blackened (about 20 minutes).
  2. Place grilled peppers inside a paper bag and close the top tightly. Place the bag inside a large bowl (to catch any juices that spill out), for about 10 minutes. The steam will help the skins peel off more easily.
  3. Remove one pepper at a time. Place on a cutting board, and split open. Remove the stem and the seeds.
  4. Using a piece of paper towel, rub the skins off. If you have trouble removing them, then steam them a bit longer; otherwise, they should come off easily.

Note: If you don't have a grill, then you can roast or broil the peppers in the oven. You can even place them directly on the burner of a gas stove. Click here for more about roasting red peppers.