The first time I ever tasted this soup was on a vacation Mike and I took with his family to Maui. We spent the first handful of days together in Lahaina before breaking off to explore the other side of the island on our own. First stop: one of the last pineapple plantations on the island for a tour where we stuffed ourselves with fresh from the field Maui Gold pineapple.
Can I just pause for a moment to relive the gloriousness of a wedge of pineapple still warm from the sun cut from the stalk just moments before and sliced with a wickedly sharp machete by our fearless guide right before our eyes? Even though we had enough fresh fruit to make our tongues go a little numb lunch was still in order (what can I say, we were on a vacation “diet”) and we were fortunate to be within a stone’s throw of the Hali’imaile General Store; a somewhat confusingly named, but absolutely lovely café.
After the memorable morning we spent in the pineapple fields you can probably forgive me for not remembering all of lunch very clearly, but this soup on the other hand still lives in my dreams. Thanks to some Internet research I was able to recreate it in my own kitchen and return to that amazing day in the hills of Maui.
Hali'imaile General Store Roasted Red Pepper Soup (serves: 4)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon (3 cloves) minced garlic
1 cup (1 medium) chopped onion
3/4 cup (3 medium) shallots
6 fire roasted red bell peppers
4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
4-6 tablespoons Chobani 4% plain greek yogurt
Challah croutons (recipe below)
Roast the bell peppers by placing them directly on the burner over a gas flame or under a preheated broiler, rotating every 2-3 minutes until the skins blister and are completely charred. The more blackened and crispy the skin, the easier it will be to remove. Place the roasted peppers in a brown paper bag and fold over the top to allow the peppers to steam for 5 minutes.
As soon as the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off the tough exterior skin. Rinse briefly under cold water and drain on paper towels. Remove the stems, seeds, and ribs before slicing each pepper into long strips, approximately 1/2 inch wide.
In a large dutch oven, melt the oil and butter together over medium heat. Add the onion and shallots, and sauté for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the minced garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes more before adding the strips of red pepper.
Cook for 6-8 minutes until softened.
Add the chicken stock, kosher salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil before decreasing to medium-low heat. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes until the peppers begin to fall apart.
Allow the soup to cool slightly, then ladle into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat. Serve warm, or chill for 2-3 hours and serve cold with a dollop of whole milk greek yogurt and crunchy croutons.
Homemade Challah Croutons (yield: 4-5 cups croutons)
1 loaf challah bread (or brioche)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Slice the bread about 3/4-inch thick. If you prefer, cut off the crusts, otherwise cut the slices in 3/4-inch dice. You should have 6 to 8 cups of croutons.
Place the croutons on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing once about half-way through the baking time, until they're golden brown on all sides. Cool to room temperature.
Rewritten and slightly adapted from Ina Garten’s Brioche Croutons.
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used my trusty 5.5 qt French oven, a high-powered blender, a large cutting board, and chef’s knife. I also used a liquid measuring cup, measuring spoons, a ladle, rubber spatula and tongs. A large paper grocery bag, or in a pinch several brown lunch bags, and paper towels will be super helpful.
If you’re also making the croutons, then add a baking sheet, wooden spatula, and serrated knife to your kit.
This is an amazing summer recipe – truly the perfect marriage of deep pepper flavor with the creaminess of a pureed bisque, and while roasting the peppers yourself does take a little doing, the mixture of bright freshness tinged with smoke is so worth it. Serve this soup cold with a spoonful of plain greek yogurt and a tumble of crunchy homemade challah croutons for a meal (or appetizer) that’s refreshing and just the littlest bit spicy.