Sweet Red Bell Pepper Soup with Sambuca Cream

–        1/2 cup olive oil

–        1 cup chopped onion

–        1 tablespoon dried fennel seed

–        1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

–        1/2 bay leaf - crumbled

–        1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

–        1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried

–        2 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper

–        1/4 cup all purpose flour

–        5 cups chicken stock –homemade if possible

–        1/2 cup peeled, seeded and chopped fresh or canned tomato

–        1 teaspoon tomato paste

–        6 large red bell peppers – halved, seeded and cut into 2 inch chuncks

–        1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream

–        pinch of sugar

–        salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

–        generous splash of cambuca

–        Sambuea Cream (See note below)

1.      In a 4 quart heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the 1/2 cup olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, fennel seed, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, basil and jalapeno pepper.  Reduce heat to low and cook until the onion is translucent, about 10 – 15 minutes.

2.      Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes.

3.      In a separate pot, bring stock to a boil.  Carefully pour the stock over the vegetables, stirring well, to incorporate.  Add the tomato and tomato paste. 

4.      Meanwhile, place a large skillet lightly coated with olive oil over high heat.  Saute the bell pepper chuncks untilt he skins are blistered and lightly charred.  Add the peppers to the soup and simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot, for about 20 minutes. 

5.      Remove the soup from the heat and puree in small batches in a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Strain.

6.      Return the sop to the saucepan, bring to a simmer, add 1/2 cup of the cream and sugar.  Season with salt and pepper.  If the soup is too spicy, add more cream.  Add the sambuca just before serving. 

7.      RECIPE SAMBUCA CREAM:  In an electric mixer, whip cream until soft peaks form.  Add lemon juice, zest, sambuca and sugar.  Continue whipping until the cream is almost stiff.  Keep refrigerated untl serving time. (Whip in cold bowl and beaters.)