Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper Soup with a Cilantro-Jalapeño Swirl

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2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups cooked or canned navy beans, drained
5 red peppers, charred, steamed and peeled*
4 cups vegetable stock, commercial or homemade
¾ teaspoon agave
Juice of 1-2 lemons
3 tablespoons white or golden miso
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cilantro-Jalapeño Swirl (optional, recipe follows) or Tabasco's Jalapeño Sauce
Tofu Sour Cream (optional, see recipe)
Cilantro leaves (optional)

To prepare the peppers, place them in the broiler so that they are about 2 inches away from the heat. Broil for about 20 minutes, turning them several times to char the skin on all sides. Then place the peppers in paper or plastic bag and let them steam for 15 minutes. Dunk each pepper up and down in a bowl of water as you peel off the charred skin. Remove the stem and skins.

Add oil to a skillet. Heat over medium heat and add onion and bay leaves. Sauté them together for 4 minutes or until the onion is starting to wilt. Lower the heat as low as it will go and add the garlic. Cook another 6-8 minutes, stirring often, or until the garlic is tender but not browned. Remove the bay leaves and scrape the sauté into a food processor.

Add the beans, red peppers, about ¾ cup of the stock, and the agave to the processor mixture. Buzz until very smooth. Meanwhile, heat the remaining vegetable stock on the stove in a medium saucepan. Add the processed mixture to the hot stock and heat together. Bring to a simmer, then turn heat very low.

Squeeze the juice of the lemon into the miso along with a few tablespoons of the hot soup. Stir to dissolve the miso, then stir this mixture into the pot of hot soup. Heat through. Taste and add salt and pepper. Add more lemon juice or agave if you feel it's needed. Serve hot, with 1 teaspoon of the Cilantro-Jalapeño Swirl stirred on top of it, or use one of the optional garnishes.

[Adapted from: Passionate Vegetarian, by Crescent Dragonwagon]

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