Who'd a thunk we'd finally have a snow day around here? Best of all, it's President's Day so lots of folks have the day off and don't have to drive around in it. They can actually go out and play while it lasts, which, from a quick peak at Mr. Washington's trusty thermometer outside my living room window, won't be too long. The General Assembly soldiers on regardless of things like holidays and snow, so from my perspective, sitting here alone--well Briggs and Eudora Richardson are here with me of course (my black and white furry companions)-- I've really lucked out with perhaps the quintessential snow day lunch for one.
Saturday was spent busily preparing a meal for special guests who'd purchased dinner at Chez Schapiro at the Cystic Fibrosis benefit. I was eager that it be something really special, so, along with good old tried and true recipes, I decided to try something new that had been speaking to me during recent restaurant visits all over town. I first had a very good red pepper and crab soup at Portico, followed by a superlative one at Bacchus on Main. It kept reverberating through my days, and I couldn't look at a red pepper in the grocery, let alone see that ravishing orangey red color, even on a pillow, without thinking about the soup.
Determined to reproduce it, I had lots of will, but not too much time, as I was already on the hook to make all of the other time-consuming courses. I scurried around looking for a recipe that might achieve the goal without too much fussing and found one, sans crabmeat, by Giada De Laurentiis that used jarred red peppers and meant that I could forego the roasting/paper bag performance which, while not remotely difficult, is a tad bit fussy.
I grabbed some stupendous jumbo lump crabmeat at Bon Air Seafood and had this whipped up in no time for its premiere on Saturday night. We had it again during the snow storm last night and I managed to eek out one last bowl, and two of the cheese "batons", as my friend Carroll dubbed them, for my lunch today.
With the Richardsons napping nearby on the window seat, I plan to happily enjoy the solitude of my snow day lunch. When I look at Briggs nestled up against that pillow, it's nice to know that the next time I get that craving, I can whip up the soup of my dreams in no time.
Cream of Red Pepper Soup with Crab
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
6 cups chicken broth
2 (15 ounce) jars roasted sweet red bell peppers preserved in water, drained
1 russet potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
creme fraiche for garnish (optional)
Heat olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, and thyme and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, bell peppers, potato, wine, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool the soup slightly.
Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until it is smooth. Season the soup, to taste, with salt and pepper. Add cream and crab meat and, stirring, warm through, until hot without boiling, and serve immediately garnished with creme fraiche.
--Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis