Red Pepper Soup

The Palm Restaurant Recipe

1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 small sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 large red bell peppers, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 large jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup tomato paste
8 cups chicken stock
1 cup peeled plum tomatoes, seeded
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream

Place a 4 inch square of doubled cheesecloth on the counter, and in the center combine the fennel seed, thyme, bay leaf and basil. Tie into a little pouch with a piece of kitcdhen twine and reserve.

In a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft but not colored, about 10 minutes. Add the red peppers and jalapenos, and continue to cook without browning until very tender, about 8 minutes more. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then add the tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add a little of the hot chicken stock, stirring until smooth. Then add the remaining chicken stock, the spice bag, and the plum tomatoes.

Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Stir in  1 teaspoon salt and several turns of the peppermill. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from the Heat and discard the spice bag. In batches, puree in blender until very smooth for use and immersion blender. Press the soup through a fine sieve, and return to a clean saucepan. Stir in the cream, return to a slow simmer, and taste for seasoning. Simmer for one minute more, then ladle into warmed soup bowls and serve. Serves 8 to 10.

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