Roasted red pepper and gouda soup made better with zucchini, for texture and substance. Super easy to make and it comes out very creamy and savory.
My one cooking rule is this: with every new recipe, try to find a way to step out of your comfort zone. Specifically, I trying the recipe in a slightly different way. I know a lot of people who are very uncomfortable with this.
I’ve seen people nearly have panic attacks because “The recipe calls for onions. I don’t like onions” or “I know these sriracha meatballs call for grape jelly, but all I have is strawberry. Guess I have to run to the store.” Neither of these things actually matter. The jelly is mostly for consistency, not taste, so you can use whatever flavor you want. And if you don’t like onions, you just don’t add onions. Easy.
Some people, though, have it in their heads that you have to follow a recipe to a T. I used to do that, and at times I still do (with baking, particularly). But over the years, I’ve spent more and more time taking risks, trying new things, learning what I can and can’t substitute for an ingredient I forgot to buy because I am not going back to the store, dammit, and you can’t make me.
I’ve learned more from not following a recipe than I ever could have from always following them. Believe me when I say, the more I stray from a recipe, the more meaningful a learning experience it winds up being (whether it comes out right or not).
Not only has straying from the recipe been a huge learning experience for me, but it’s also been a confidence booster. Yes, some of my experiments have ended in tears (and sometimes blood), but some of my greatest successes have been the result of stepping out of that comfort zone and doing the exact opposite of what the recipe said to do…or even just adding new steps and ingredients. (See stuffed pepper soup.)
The more successes I have, the farther away I’m willing to stray. Which is a really good way to learn how to cook, because improvising forces you to get creative. The biggest difference, I’ve found, between someone who knows how to cook and someone who is a good cook is creativity and a willingness to say, “Screw the recipe. My idea is better.” Which doesn’t mean non-creative people should get discouraged. Creativity is something you can develop over time.
So instead of freaking out the next time you forget to buy a fairly minor ingredient, try improvising.
This recipe is a pretty good example of improvisation that turned out way better than the original recipe.
Roasted Red Pepper and Gouda Soup with Zucchini
- 2 medium zucchinis, diced
- 1 jar (12 oz) of roasted red peppers, drained and diced
- 1 tbsps garlic powder
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 tsps basil
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- parsley, for garnish
- 8 oz shredded smoked Gouda, plus more for garnish
Step 01: Put everything except the Gouda in a 3-qt pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 minutes. Note: If you aren’t a huge fan of peppers, use only one jar. It will give the soup a subtle pepper taste. If you love peppers, use two jars for a bolder taste.
Step 02: While everything in the pot simmers, shred your Gouda. Shred as much as you plan to add. Two whole cups will make the soup taste really smokey and Gouda-y. For a milder taste, use 1/2 to 1 cup.
Step 03: Dump the contents of the pot into a blender or food processor and puree.
Step 04: Add the Gouda. Puree again.
Step 05: Serve with any extra cheese and enjoy!
This is completely delicious. The zucchini was something I added because 1) it was about to go bad, and 2) the soup needed more substance. I was nervous about adding it, but it turned out really well.
If you don’t want this really spicy, just don’t add the pepper flakes. As for salt and pepper, I never add any. But some people like it, so add it if you need to.
Do you prefer to follow a recipe or do you experiment?