Friday, September 02, 2016

On the Road Again: Potato and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup

Life is very overwhelming right now.  As you may have noticed by the fact that my posting has been a bit more sporadic than usual lately. 

I don't think it helps that I have mountains of photos from our trip to Yosemite.  As I uploaded them on my computer I didn't even know how to begin organizing them for a recap.

But when things get overwhelming, the best tactic is to just go one step at a time.  And start at the very beginning.  So let's start at the beginning.  TMIL wanted to go to Yosemite to celebrate her 70th birthday.  Which isn't that unusual, since we go to Yosemite on an almost yearly basis anyway.  But a trip to Yosemite means a very very long car trip for us, so unsurprisingly I was not exactly looking forward to the trip.

But the trip up was surprisingly delightful.  Given the distance, we had decided to make the trip in two days, figuring we would rather check into a hotel late at night than try and navigate through the park in the dark.  But we somehow managed to avoid all traffic, pulling into town at lunch time.   Which meant we had time to grab a beer and lunch before spending the afternoon at the pool.

And since we had plenty of time before meeting with Thatboy's family, the next day we started with an adventure that had been a hit the first time we took Thatkid to Yosemite - the Sugar Pine Railroad.

Thatkid was almost 2 at his first visit and obsessed with trains.  Since Thatbaby is a bit younger, this was his first experience with a train.  He was fascinated.

The first time Thatkid heard the train whistle blow, he clung to me in terror.  He may have even started crying.  He was terrified of the train and his grip didn't relax for most of the train trip.  My brave second born didn't have this problem at all...until we got into the train.  Once it started moving, he frantically signed "ALL DONE" until he figured out what was going on.

The train wanders through the Sugar Pine Forrest, telling the history of the logging practices and the role of the steam train.  At the end of the line, it stops and there's time to explore before heading back.

Since we're old hat at this experience now, we knew to bring lunches with us, so after the train ride, we had a picnic lunch, complete with a huge bowl of watermelon.  And then we headed into the park...but you'll have to wait and see how that turned out!

If you want to know how behind I am, I'll let you know that the Yosemite trip was the first week of August.  It is now the first week of September.  It feels like a whole 'nother season already!  Partially because we're starting to get a taste of fall weather.  The mornings are no longer sticky and hot.  There's a cool chill in the air on our way to work and school.  Of course it's still 90 degrees by the afternoon, but baby steps, right?  Before long the whole day will have a crispness to it which marks my favorite time of year.  And soups like this will be warming the bellies of everyone around the nation.   Soup is another one of my tricks for when life gets overwhelming.  The basics are easy - cook vegetables, add broth, and continue to cook until you have soup.  This one requires the extra step of puree,  but it's well worth it.  Creamy potato soup is the perfect way to usher in fall nights, and the roasted red pepper reminds you that summer isn't quite over yet.  It's the marriage of seasons.

Potato and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup
4 roasted red bell peppers
1/2 stick butter
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes 
1 onion, cubed
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup milk 

  1. Puree the bell pepper.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the potatoes and onions and toss them in the butter until well coated.
  3. Sprinkle with salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Cover and sweat for about 10 minutes.
  4. Bring the broth to a boil.
  5. Add the vegetables to the broth and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
  6. Let cool, the puree the soup. Taste and adjust seasoning.  
  7. Add milk until the desired consistency is achieved.  
  8. Just before serving swirl in the red pepper puree and top with the herbs.

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