Full of Hot Air

I generally act as though I’m too cool, or too tough to be a fan of, or want, bold romantic gestures. But it’s all a load of crap.

I used to work at a flower shop and one day, while lamenting that I didn’t think anyone had ever sent me flowers in my life, the owner turned to me and said, “You’re not the kind of girl that would get flowers sent to her.” It totally crushed me. But then I see myself doing things to repel that sort of gesture. Last night, while out with some friends, a man came over selling roses and I immediately declared, “I hate roses.”

What? Who hates roses? What an idiotic thing to say. In reality, cheesy as it may be, I’m sure I wanted someone to hand me a rose, but, thinking that would never happen anyway - I tried to control the moment and protect my pride.

My dad has always been really sharp with the bold romantic gestures with the loves in his life. He gave someone a star for Christmas one year. He had it named after her. A STAR. Of course, I don’t know what one does with their star, but my word, she has a star!

Me, I’ve always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon. With that special someone. With champagne. The whole world beneath the two of us, suspended in the air in our wicker basket under a gigantic billowy, rainbowy balloon watching the landscape slowly change under us.

See, I am a total dork.

A few nights ago a couple of friends came over for dinner. I knew I wanted to make a roasted red pepper soup and actually have a pretty standard recipe I usually use. But, for some reason, that night I felt like exploring other ideas. As I was poring through one of my cookbooks I stumbled upon a French red pepper soup recipe that caught my eye. This soup, I read, was one of the culinary delights awaiting balloonists when they would touch down after drifting with the breezes over vineyards, churches and villages in Burgundy, near Beaune, a small city southeast of Paris.

A tear formed.

Needless to say, with some modifications and variations (including a garnish of crème fraiche and lump crab) - and with my thoughts drifting into hot air balloon fantasies, I prepared my version of Potage Aux Poivrons Rouges.

It turned out beautifully. This is truly a beguiling soup because its lovely light red color suggests tomato but its taste is all pepper. It’s zingy but sweet. Both April and Chris had a second bowl.

I paired it with a burgundy and followed it with stuffed pork tenderloin medallions over rice. I imagine this soup would be equally delicious served cold with a glass of sancerre and a salad.

Funny thing: the next day I received an email containing a coupon for a hot air balloon ride. Perhaps it’s a sign that my fantasy may soon be realized. Perhaps I should also stop acting so haughty about the saccharin sweet, goopy romantic stuff.

Because, while I prefer peonies, I totally love roses.

French Red Pepper Soup (Potage Aux Poivrons Rouges)

Serves 2

2 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped coarsely
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
3 cups vegetable stock
2 roasted red peppers, peeled, seeded and chopped coarsely
¾ cup milk
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
¼ cup crème fraiche
2 Tablespoon lump crab meat

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan; drop in the chopped onions and cook over medium-low heat until they are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.

Add the carrots, cover and cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Add the stock, leave uncovered and bring to a boil over medium-high heat for 20 minutes to reduce the stock base in volume and to strengthen its flavor. Skim occasionally.

Add the pepper chunks and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until they can be easily pierced with a fork or knife point. Remove from heat and add milk, salt, pepper and thyme.

When somewhat cool, puree the soup in a food processor or blender.

Reheat soup over low flame and add crème fraiche. Serve in heated bowls, topped with a dollop of crème fraiche and lump crab meat.


  1. Great post! I really enjoy your writing style, not to mention to soup looks fab. Happy V Day :)

  2. Thanks so much! The soup really is something. You should try it and let me know what you think!