I came up with the idea for this recipe when I put a little one day old cheese from Bruny Island on the top of a bowl of my bright green pea and ham soup. The cheese was delicious on soup. It had an unexpected flavour. I was surprised how much it tasted like a lovely, mild mozarella, without the stringiness. This made it particularly well suited for soup, and I thought it would partner beautifully atop a roast capsicum soup. Thus this recipe was born. It has a beautiful richness from the roasted vegetables, and a creaminess from the emulsified olive oil. It has an incredible depth of flavour with the sweetness of the vegetables and spiciness of the chillies. It works incredibly well with the O.D.O, but you could probably substitute some little bocconcini. Or, drop the cheese altogether for a vegan dish. Use a wine that has some acidity to balance the sweetness of the capsicums, or add a little red wine vinegar if you’d like. I was hoping to grab the first of the hot house capsicums at market, but they’d sold out by the time I arrived, so I picked them up at Choku Bai Jo.
|3||whole||large, fresh, mild red chillies|
|2||whole||small, fresh, hot red chillies *|
|1||vine ripened tomato|
|3||slices||stale bread soaked in|
|salt and pepper for seasoning|
|1/4||cup||very good quality olive oil (the marinade from the O.D.O, and/or a basil infused EVOO would work great)|
* or whatever quantity suits your taste
** fresh bocconcini would make a suitable substitute, or remove entirely for a vegan option
Cut the top off the onion and the bulb of garlic. Halve the tomato and sprinkle the cut halves with salt and a pinch of sugar. Rub the onion and garlic with a little olive oil, and drizzle some over the tomato. Cover a baking tray with foil and arrange the vegetables on the tray. Place in the oven at 130oC and cook gently for an hour. Remove the tray from the oven. Increase the heat of the oven to as high as it will go, about 250oC. Rub the capsicums and chillies with a little olive oil and add to the tray. Return to the oven. Turn the capsicums and chillies approximately every 10 minutes. When the skin on the chillies chars, remove them from the oven and set aside in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate to keep the steam in. Once the capsicums are charred, turn the oven off, add the capsicums to the bowl, cover and allow to cool till you can handle them. The onion and garlic can cool in the open air.
When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic from the cloves. Remove the onion skin to reveal the sweet soft middle layers. Peel the capsicums and remove the stalk and seeds. Remove the skin, stalk and seeds from the large chillies. Remove the stalk from the small chillies (the skin will likely be too soft to remove, and the seeds to fiddly). Remove the skin and the seeds of the tomato. Be sure to save all the juices that came from the vegetables as they were cooling, and you were peeling.
In a small saucepan, bring the wine to the boil with the bay leaf to cook off the alcohol and infuse. Once the wine has come to the boil, simmer for a few minutes before turning off. Allot to cool a little.
Place the bread and soaking water in a blender. Add the capsicums, tomatoes, garlic, onion large chillies and one of the small chillies to the blender and blend to a fine puree. Taste for spice and seasoning. If you want more spice, add your other chilli and season with salt and pepper. Strain the wine into the blender and whiz again till combined. Taste for seasoning again. If you are going to store some of this soup, take the portion you wish to store. Otherwise, return the soup to the saucepan and heat till it just starts to simmer. Pour the soup into a serving bowl. Crumble over the O.D.O., garnish with fresh parsley or basil and serve drizzled with good quality olive oil, with a slice of crusty bread, char grilled, rubbed with a clove of garlic. Enjoy.