Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pancetta and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Creme Soup

     Pancetta is Italian seasoned dry cured rolled pork belly.  The flavor is much different than regular salt cured bacon or smoked bacon.  Pancetta has a rich dry cure bacon flavor.  Pancetta is sometimes featured in Italian recipes, but more often it is used like a seasoning, especially in fine ragu.
     I usually purchase a thick slice of pancetta at an Italian delicatessen.  Then I only cut off portions as needed, when I use the pancetta for a recipe.  Real imported Italian pancetta or hand crafted Italian American pancetta is the best.  National brand lunch meat company pancetta is second rate.
     Pancetta gives this soup a very interesting flavor!  A hint of a "lightly aged cheese" kind of flavor comes from the pancetta.  Roasted red bell peppers are a nice spring and summer flavor.
     This soup only has a splash of cream in the broth.  This pancetta and roasted red bell pepper soup is actually light on the tummy!
     Roasted Red Bell Peppers:
     Roasted red peppers are easy to make!  You can roast them over an open flame, till the skin turns black.  You can also brush the peppers with olive oil and roast them in a 350ยบ oven, till they become tender and the skin is easily peeled off.
     After roasting, peel and seed the roasted peppers under cold running water.
     Trim the stem off.
     Pat the peppers dry with a towel.
     Place the peppers in a container.
     Pour a little bit of olive oil over the peppers.
     The roasted peppers can be stored in a refrigerator for a few days.
     Pancetta and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup Recipe:
     This recipe makes enough for 2 small portions or 1 large portion of soup! 
     Finely chop 1/4 cup of each of these vegetables:
     - carrot
     - celery
     - onion.
     Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 ounces of small chopped pancetta.
     Saute till the pancetta turns a golden brown color.
     Add the finely chopped vegetables.
     Add 1/2 of a minced garlic clove.
     Stir and saute the ingredients, till the vegetables become tender, but not browned.
     Add just enough flour, while constantly stirring, to soak up the butter in the pan and to form a thin pan roux.
     Stir for 30 seconds, till the roux cooks to a white color.  (Do not let the roux turn brown!)
     Add 2 cups of light chicken broth while stirring.
     Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Bring the soup up to a gentle boil, while stirring occasionally, till the soup thickens.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of milk.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Add 1 small bay leaf.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.  (Only add a small pinch of salt, or the pancetta will end up tasting like salt pork!)
     Add 1 small pinch of ground sage.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Stir the soup occasionally.
     Add 1/2 cup of finely chopped roasted red bell pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of finely chopped parsley.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the soup, till it becomes a thin cream soup consistency.
     Remove the bay leaf.
     Ladle the soup into a shallow soup bowl.
     Sprinkle a few thin green onion slices on the soup.
     Place a small parsley sprig on the center of the soup as a garnish.
     The combination of pancetta and roasted red bell pepper is a warm friendly flavor!  Yummy!  ...  Shawna  

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