Creamy Sweet Bell Pepper Soup

Bowl of sweet bell pepper soup in blue bowl with grilled cheese sticks

And just like that summer has become a distant memory, forever tucked into the backs of our minds throughout winter as a time full of golden light and perpetual warmth. The rain is back in Vancouver, very much needed but selfishly difficult to accept as routine again. The sunny days we have now seem muted and pale but remain beautiful nonetheless. I’ve been resisting warmer clothing, which occurs naturally as someone who runs hot all of the time; t-shirt weather extends into October for me. When I went to the grocery store I found a massive bin full of sweet bell peppers of all colours and sizes, from the mellowest of greens to waxy midnight purple. Having bought far more than I could eat before they began their slow decline in my fridge, I decided to make a simple pureed soup that would showcase their wonderful sweetness without masking it with excess seasoning. The balsamic vinegar added towards the end of the recipe gives the soup subtle oomph, it makes all the difference without being easily recognizable. I think the best way to serve this soup is alongside grilled cheese sandwiches that have been cut into toast soldiers that are crisp and easily dunkable. However, if you’re in a more virtuous frame of mind (and this soup is already virtuous in its own right as its richness stems from arborio rice rather than heavy cream) I would suggest finding the last of the good seasonal tomatoes and putting them to use in a crisp ice berg lettuce salad with shallots and chopped celery.

creamy sweet bell pepper soup:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

4-5 sweet peppers of various shapes and colours, roughly chopped

1 medium sized onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3 Tbsp. arborio rice

2 1/2-3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock, depending on how big the original peppers were

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar or other sweet vinegar

1 cup of whole milk

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

1. In a large soup pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped sweet peppers, onion, and garlic. Cook until soft, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the arborio rice and cook for another 2 minutes coating the rice in olive oil as you stir. Pour in the stock and bring to a gentle simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool.

3. Transfer the soup to a blender and blitz until smooth. Heat over medium-low heat, adding the balsamic vinegar before whisking in the milk, don’t allow the soup to boil. Adjust for seasoning and serve piping hot with a side of grilled cheese or a green salad.

Autumn has always meant repeated Glenn Gould listening; while I’m making dinner, while I’m writing, while I’m walking, and while I’m reading. I love his confident, calculated flightiness and soft humming as he plays. I adore how entrenched Glenn Gould is in Canadian cultural history, his part in afternoons spent watching National Film Board of Canada movies in my darkened elementary school library (those being the school memories I can recall easily, mainly the smell of the carpeting, yellowed books, and Ms. Caldwell’s dry but kind voice). This reminds me of hibernation and of the comfort that can be found as the summer slips away for the year, it makes the transition seem gentle and less looming.

Glenn Gould – Goldberg Variations

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