Friday, January 25, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper and Bacon Soup

We still have ice on the ground in some places and now an ice storm is going to bring freezing rain and sleet early in the morning.  That means it was a perfect night for comfort food.  How about a Monte Cristo sandwich and a rich bowl of roasted red pepper and bacon soup? 

Monte Cristo sandwiches are so good it should be criminal.  It is a double-decker sandwich of ham and Emmental (or Swiss) cheese dipped in a batter and grilled like French toast, then served with a warm raspberry sauce.  If that is criminally good, I was aiming for "Mr. Chow international criminal" status.  So I swapped out one of the layers of ham for some chopped pork bbq that I had in the freezer and amped up the raspberry sauce with a chipotle. 

I am not doing a full blown recipe for the sandwich since you don't need a recipe for that but the sauce was 
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp onion, finely minced
1/2 to 3/4 cup of seedless black raspberry jam
1 chipotle, seeded and diced
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp white wine vinegar

Saute the onion in butter until tender.  Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in everything else until blended.  Keep warm over low heat just until serving.

The soup was a "pantry soup" made up from whatever I had on hand.  Except garlic.  I had run out of garlic so we had to run to Food City and fight through the Snowpocalypse crowds that were there buying beer, bread, milk and eggs.  

Roasted Red Pepper and Bacon Soup

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 35 min

Ingredients (4 servings)
  • 6 slices bacon, diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 oz Neufchatel cheese, cubed (or cream cheese)
  • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper, finely diced
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 3/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Crisp the bacon in a 3 quart pot and then remove with a slotted spoon, reserving 2 Tbsp of the bacon grease.
  2. Saute the carrot, onion, and celery in the bacon grease until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper during the saute. Just a pinch or two of salt and pepper.
  3. Add the garlic and whisk in the all purpose flour, whisking until well combined, another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Whisk in the chicken broth, bring to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes. Then use an immersion blender to smooth out this soup base.
  5. Return to a simmer and whisk in the small cubes of Neufchatel cheese, smoked paprika and roasted red pepper. Cook another 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the half and half. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. I used maybe 1/4 tsp of pepper and go light on the salt, remember the bacon is going back in and it will add saltiness.
  7. Stir in the bacon crisps just before serving.
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Save your celery leaves, they make for a good garnish.

I used Texas toast for the outer slices of bread and regular bread for the inside piece.

I'll have to do an extra work out this weekend for eating this one!

We ended up not eating until 9:30 because of the store trip but this soup and sandwich made it all worth it.  The smoky pork and the sweet and spicy chipotle-raspberry sauce elevated the Monte Cristo and the creamy soup was just what the weatherman ordered!