Roasted Veggie Soup

or a creamy and flavorful bowl of garden goodness.

A Summer home with my baby girl should have resulted in more cooking on my part, but I failed to take into account healing.  Seems that healing is very important after childbirth.  Well I learned my lesson after a few failed attempts at things like weeding the garden and going for long walks early on, sometimes the extra pain is just not worth it.  So this season was spent on easier meals (i.e. semi-homemade) and tried and true recipes.  One chance I did take to experiment was with some left over veggies from the farmers' market and my rather bare garden this year.  I had always thought about trying my hand at roasted red pepper soup but I didn't have just red peppers wasting away on the counter so I thought "ah what the heck, let's just toss it all in and see what happens."

I absolutely love roasted garlic soup so using that as a base was a must for me.  But since I undertook this endeavor during our several month long heat wave, I made it a bit less creamy than the exclusively garlic version.  This turned out great and really didn't need a whole lot of seasoning with all the vegetables involved, but if you want a bit more flavor I would toss in some Italian spices since they would get along nicely with the flavors already there.  This does take a little bit of "at home" time to prepare so you may want to do it on a day when you'll be hanging around the house for a bit.  Don't let that deter you though, the extra care is definitely worth it.  Check it out:

red bell pepper - 2 (or one red and one orange)
garlic - 2 heads
leek - 1 medium
chicken stock -
4 cups 
heavy cream - ¾ cup
Parmesan cheese -
¼ cup 
olive oil
salt & pepper

Hardware: cookie sheet, medium pot, immersion blender or food processor.

1. Prepare the peppers.  Turn the oven to broil.  On a cookie sheet, place the peppers and brush lightly with olive.  Broil the peppers, turning periodically, until blackened on all sides.  Remove and allow to cool.  Place in a paper bag and shake to help remove the blackened skins.  Once the skins are removed, cut the peppers taking care to remove the seeds and dice up then set aside.

2. Prepare the leeks.  Cut the tops and bottoms off the leeks, keeping only the white & light green areas, and slice in half lengthwise.  Wash the leeks well and then cut them down into small "moons" and set aside.  Add the leeks to the cookie sheet after the peppers are removed and brush with olive oil.  Broil a couple minutes, watching so they don't burn, until they start to caramelize.  Remove and set aside.

2. Prepare the garlic.  Cut the tops off the garlic heads just to expose the tops of all of the bulbs. Place in a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle tops with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Close the foil around them in a sort of packet, leaving some space between the tops and the foil, and place in the oven at 350 degrees F.  Roast until soft and fragrant, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove, allow to cool, and squeeze out the garlic into a bowl.

3. Heat the chicken stock to a simmer, stir in all the veggies and cook for 15 min.  Remove from heat and blend until smooth with either the immersion blender or food processor.  Strain to remove any stubborn bits.

4. Return to medium  heat and add the heavy cream and Parmesan cheese.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes until heated through.  Serve with garlic Parmesan croutons.

Parmesan croutons (this is one of my favorite quick recipes, I have been known to make a big pan of these and just chow down on them solo):
Day old bread, hamburger buns, or hot dog buns
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp Parmesan cheese

1. Cut or tear the bread product up into bite sized pieces and toss in olive oil to coat.

2. Cook over medium high heat, flipping pretty regularly, until starting to toast.

3. Sprinkle Parmesan over top while the bread gets crispy.  Allow it to sit on the side that is touching the pan for a couple seconds so it will adhere to the bread better.  (if you are having problems getting it to stick, press down with the flat side of the spatula similar to how you might while making grilled cheese)  Once it is golden brown, toss in soup and serve!

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