Bell Pepper Soup with Grains of Paradise
The first time we read about Grains of Paradise (or Melegueta Pepper) was when we prepared Sauce Cameline. The grains are common to the North and West African cuisine and were brought to Europe in the thirteenth century. According to some as a cheap substitute for black pepper. Recently we were fortunate to buy them and now we are impressed by their flavour: spicy, citrus and a touch of vanilla. When used in a stew it becomes less pungent. They gave a delicious and complex boost to the redd bell pepper soup.
Grains of Paradise are used to give flavour to craft beers, especially dark, seasonal beers. It can be a component of Has el Ranout. American chef Alton Brown uses Grains of Paradise in a stew with Okra and Tomatoes, in Apple Pie and in Lentil Soup.
For some reason it’s crucial to combine grains of paradise and lemon juice, As if the acidity amplifies the flavour of the grains?
What You Need
- 2 Red Bell Peppers (or 1 Red and 1 Orange)
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 5 cm Carrot
- 10 cm Celery Stalk
- 250 ml Vegetable Stock
- 5 cm of Fresh Rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon of Grains of Paradise
- Lemon Juice
- Crème Fraîche
- Olive Oil
What You Do
Clean the bell peppers and cut in 4. Transfer to the oven and grill or roast for 10 minutes or until well charred. When still hot, put the bell peppers in a plastic container and close it. After one hour it’s easy to remove the skin of the bell pepper. Chop and set aside.
Chop the shallot, the garlic, the celery and the carrot. Add olive oil to a pot and add the shallot. Glaze. Add the carrot, the celery and the garlic. Leave on low heat for a few minutes. Add the bell pepper. After a few minutes add the stock, the rosemary and the crushed grains of paradise. Leave on low heat for one hour. Remove the rosemary. Use a blender to make a smooth soup. Pass through a sieve. Taste the soup and decide if you want to add some extra grain of paradise. Leave the soup on low heat for 30 minutes. Just before serving add one or two teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, depending on the flavour and your taste. The soup should be smokey, aromatic, a touch spicy and refreshing. You could add more crushed grains of paradise, that will make the soup spicier. Make a swirl with crème fraîche an serve.