Zarzar Red Pepper and Onion Soup

A warming winter soup from Spain, Zarzar Red Pepper and Onion Soup is a meal in itself served with lots of crusty bread and cheese.2 oz. butter

3 medium-sized onions, chopped

2 large red peppers, white pith removed, seeded and chopped

3 tablespoons flour

15 fl. oz. m cups home-made chicken stock

2 tablespoons tomato puree

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

4 lean bacon slices, grilled, crumbled and kept hot

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the onions and peppers and fry, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent but not brown. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Remove the pan from the heat and add the stock and tomato puree, stirring constantly. Return the pan to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.

Add the chives, salt and pepper and stir well to blend. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Pour the soup into a strainer set over a large bowl. Using the back of a wooden spoon, rub the onions and peppers through the strainer. Discard the dry pulp left in the strainer. Alternatively, pour the soup into the jar of an electric blender and blend to a puree.

Return the soup to the pan and set the pan over moderate heat. Bring the soup just to boiling point, remove the pan from the heat and pour the soup into a warmed tureen.

Sprinkle over the crumbled bacon and serve at once.

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