Every week I travel to a few different grocery stores. We stick to a very strict $150/week grocery budget, and I do my absolute best to stock our kitchen with plenty of seasonal and organic food. If I want to stay on budget, I can’t rely on just one store to fill our needs. I have to shop around.
Yesterday my favorite produce market offered the deal of the century: 11-pound boxes of fresh orange bell peppers for just $1.00. I didn’t quite believe it. I asked the man stocking the boxes to double check. I asked the cashier to triple check. Yes, the perfectly good orange peppers were just $1 a box.
I bought 3 boxes. Nearly 100 orange peppers for a total of $3.00.
On a good day, these peppers cost $1 each at the grocery store. My buy yesterday was a 97% savings. As excited as I was, I also felt a pang of guilt. Obviously, someone along that way lost a lot of money on this deal. My win was their loss. It didn’t seem quite fair.
I was determined to honor another’s sacrifice by putting these not-so-pricey peppers to very good use. I sliced and diced 60 of them for freezer storage. In the dreary winter months they’ll be a nice addition to chili, fajitas, curries, soups and stir-frys.
I took the remaining 25 peppers and made two big batches of orange pepper soup – enough for dinner tonight, lunch tomorrow and a freezer stash for a future meal. I used the red pepper soup recipe from the New York Times – here is my slightly adapted version:
Orange Pepper Soup
2 tablespoons butter
3½ cups sliced onions
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup vermouth (or a dry white wine)
12 large red bell peppers, chopped
2 cups chicken stock or broth (we had roast chicken last week, so I had a good stash of fresh chicken stock thanks to all the leftover chicken bones!)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
Salt and white pepper
½ cup whipping cream
Put butter in large pot. Add onion when butter melts. Cook onions until they begin to soften and take on color. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add wine and cook down until about 1 tablespoon is left.
Add peppers, stock, thyme and red pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until peppers are tender, about 30 minutes.
Use an immersion blender directly in the pot to puree the soup. Adjust seasonings and stir in cream.
Makes six servings.
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