2000s Recipes + Menus

Chilled Red Bell Pepper and Habanero Soup

  • Active time:30 min
  • Start to finish:1 1/2 hr (includes chilling)
August 2008
We love the games this soup plays with our senses: First, its fiery color tricks your brain into thinking it is hot, but when you take a sip, your tongue realizes the soup is cold. Then the spice of the habaneros sweeps in and deliciously complicates matters. Don’t be alarmed by the number of chiles called for—habaneros’ heat is complex and floral and partners perfectly with the sweetness of the red bell peppers.
  • 4 medium red bell peppers
  • 2 lb tomatoes
  • 1 sweet onion (1/2 lb), chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 to 6 fresh habanero chiles, finely chopped (2 to 3 Tbsp), stems and seeds discarded
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • Accompaniment:

    crackers, flatbread, or bread
  • Roast bell peppers on racks of gas burners over high heat (or on a broiler pan about 2 inches from broiler), turning with tongs, until skins are blackened, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand 20 minutes. Peel, then halve lengthwise, discarding stems and seeds.
  • Cut a shallow X in bottom of each tomato, then blanch tomatoes in simmering water 20 seconds and transfer to an ice bath. Peel and coarsely chop, reserving juices.
  • Cook onion, garlic, chiles, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in 2 Tbsp oil in a 3- to 4-qt heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and pale golden, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes with juices, bell peppers, broth, and 1/4 tsp salt and simmer, covered, until peppers are tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Pureé soup in 2 or 3 batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids), drizzling remaining 1/4 cup oil into first batch with motor running.
  • Quick-chill soup in a metal bowl set in an ice bath, stirring often, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt.
Cooks’ note: Soup can be made 3 days ahead and chilled.
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