This pepper soup is smokin’ |

This pepper soup is smokin’

Peppers from the garden finish ripening on these balmy October days.

There’s nothing quite like the sweet, smoky smell of roasted peppers – great flavor enhancers for so many things.

Roasting a bunch of peppers is one of the last jobs of the year on the grill.

I remember a radio interview with John Ash, previous chef with Fetzer Vineyards. He talked about how, when he was young, several families got together and roasted up whole boxes of peppers to freeze for winter.

Many cookbooks recommend cutting peppers in half to roast, but grilling them whole makes peeling so much easier. Set them aside in a bowl, covered, and they will continue steaming; plus it saves the delicious juices. Once cooled, their skins slip off like a Hollywood starlet dropping her negligee in a love scene. Remove the seeds, slice and use, or freeze in containers for next winter. Roasting them in the oven at 400 degrees works well too and gives a more even heat.

Most of us are accustomed to bell peppers of various colors, but local farmers grow other varieties-gypsies, Marconi Bells, Corno di torros, Nardellos and Carmens (the latter being a nice thick-walled roasting pepper). The thinner walled peppers are better for frying instead of grilling as there isn’t enough meat left once the pepper is skinned.

Later in the winter, peppers from the market are not only exorbitantly priced, but I experience a kind of petroleum-like aftertaste. Not sure what that is, but it definitely motivates me to preserve the abundance of summer’s harvest.

Fresh peppers also freeze easily. They don’t need to be blanched, just cut them into slices and store in plastic bags. A variety of colors are great all winter for frittatas, fajitas, stir fries and soups.

On that first damp autumn evening (coming soon), try this smoky flavored soup – it’s just enough for two with leftovers for lunch. If you’ve already roasted up a slew of peppers, it is even easier to make.

Patti Bess is a local freelance writer, cookbook author and the host of What’s Cookin’ on KVMR-FM. E-mail her with questions or for more information at

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