Roasted Red Pepper Zucchini Bisque (vegan, gluten free)

This is super fast, super tasty, and super healthy. Hooray! While I was at the grocery store, I had a craving for red peppers, and decided I wanted to make a red pepper soup for lunch tomorrow. So, I grabbed some peppers, some zucchini, and decided to see what would happen.

I like using zucchini or summer squash as a base to make creamy dairy-free soups; once pureed, they have a remarkably creamy, rich texture. In fact, you can use zucchini or summer squash as a milk substitute in baking and cooking recipes - ever heard of zucchini milk? It works great! Just make sure to peel the zucchini first if you want to keep a white colored milk substitute - otherwise you end up with green "milk".
I used roasted red peppers from a jar, since they were cheaper than the super expensive middle of winter red peppers. If you want to roast your own red peppers, even better - it is way easy! If you don't know how, check out my post for Gypsy Soup and see the pepper roasting instructions at the bottom of the recipe. Buying roasted red peppers jarred can be tricky; many have vinegar and sugar added. If Candida is an issue for you, look for roasted red peppers packed only in salt and water.
I decided to make a pureed soup; I really like creamy soups. An immersion blender makes this a piece of cake! With an immersion blender, you can puree soups right in the soup pot - it is an easy and mess-free way to make perfectly creamy soups in an instant, without all the messy transferring between blender and stove top. Truly $30 well spent. However, if you don't have one, use a blender or food processor, puree in batches, and return to the soup pot.

yield: approx 7-8 cups
4-6 small or medium zucchini, chopped
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
1 c roasted red pepper slices/halves, coarsely chopped (if roasting your own, you might need 3 or 4 whole peppers to get 1 c of roasted)
6 c water or stock
1 T basil
1 /2 T marjoram
salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1 tsp arrowroot powder
olive oil
  1. Coat heavy bottom soup pot with olive oil. Saute onions over medium heat for 5 minutes, until they start to soften. Add the crushed garlic and saute for a few more minutes, covering the pot, and stirring occassionally to prevent sticking.
  2. Add chopped zucchini and turnips, stir to mix, and saute for a few more minutes.
  3. Pour in water or stock, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook over low heat until zucchini and turnips are nearly soft.
  4. While zucchini and turnips are simmering, rinse the jarred red peppers, and chop coarsely. If roasting your own, start roasting them before you put the onions on to saute, so they can be ready by the time your zucchini is soft.
  5. Add red peppers, and simmer a few more minutes to let flavors meld.
  6. Turn down heat, and puree with immersion blender or blender until smooth.
  7. Add basil, marjoram, salt, and pepper to taste, and return to low heat on stove top. Bring to a simmer.
  8. To thicken soup, dissolve 1 tsp of arrowroot starch in a few tablespoons of water, and add to simmering soup. Stir in until well mixed, and watch it thicken! Never add straight arrowroot powder to whatever it is you are trying to thicken - it will not dissolve and will just make weird chunks. Always dissolve it in a little liquid first.
  9. Let soup simmer over low heat a few more minutes, then serve! Soup will continue to thicken slightly as it cools.
Garnish with fresh basil, diced red pepper, or a dollop of yogurt or splash of kefir (if you're into that kind of thing). I imagine this soup would be very delicious chilled as well.


UPDATE 3/9/09: a few weekends ago I had some friends over and needed some party food; I had some of this soup leftover. I mixed it with some crumbled goat feta, roasted garlic cloves, and minced roasted red pepper until it was thick, and served it as a dip for vegetables. It was a hit! Everyone wanted to know what recipe I used for my awesome dip. Hoorah!

As a general note, leftover pureed soups make GREAT dips - blend them with beans and make hummus-style bean dips, mix them with crumbled cheese to make cheese dips, add mashed squash or sweet potato to make thick vegetable dips. Get creative and use those leftovers!!!!