Health & Fitness

Roasted red peppers add zip to healthful soup

Does the thought of a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich on a cold winter's day make you smile?

Chances are your dear mother opened a can and melted a slice of yellow American cheese on white bread. But with just about as much effort, you can add nutrition and a bit of sophistication to this classic lunch combo.

This recipe for roasted red pepper soup with smoked gouda features roasted red peppers in a jar, a convenience product available in nearly every supermarket.

Red peppers are naturally high in vitamin C and beta carotene.

The robust roasted pepper flavor melds beautifully with a grating of smoky Gouda, a Dutch cheese with a nutty, almost butterscotch note.

Can you say "Mmm, mmm good?"

Look for roasted red peppers in the produce aisle or the condiments aisle, often near the olives.

Refrigerate remaining peppers in the jar.

Gouda does not come in pre-shredded packets. Instead, look for a small wheel (often covered in wax) in the deli section and shred your own.

An immersion blender is a handheld stick with a rotary blade on the end to puree soup right in the pot.

It is a fairly inexpensive appliance, but you can use a blender if you prefer. Just be sure to allow the soup to cool slightly and vent the top before pureeing to avoid splatters on the ceiling.

Serving tip:

If you have fresh basil in the fridge, add a leaf to this brilliant red-orange soup for a bit of gourmet style.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup With Smoked Gouda

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces

1 jar (12 oz.) roasted red peppers, drained and diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cans (14.5 oz. each) reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

2 teaspoons dried basil leaves

1/2teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2cup shredded smoked Gouda

Heat olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add carrots, roasted red peppers, garlic, chicken broth and seasonings. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove from heat. Carefully use an immersion blender and puree soup or ladle soup, in batches, into a blender, vent cover and puree soup.

Return soup puree to saucepan; add cheese.

Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted. Makes 4 servings.

Per (1 1/4 cup) serving: 161 calories (43 percent from fat), 10 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), 16 milligrams cholesterol, 15 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams protein, 165 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.

The Wichita Eagle—03/08/11