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Originally published March 8, 2011 at 3:01 PM | Page modified March 10, 2011 at 6:09 PM

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Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Smoked Gouda

A jar of roasted red peppers stars in this soup.

McClatchy Newspapers

Does the thought of a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich on a cold winter's day make you smile?

Chances are your dear mother opened a can and melted a slice of yellow American cheese on white bread. But with just about as much effort, you can add nutrition and a bit of sophistication to this classic lunch combo.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup With Smoked Gouda features roasted red peppers in a jar, a convenience product available in nearly every supermarket. Red peppers are naturally high in vitamin C and beta carotene. The robust roasted pepper flavor melds beautifully with a grating of smoky Gouda, a Dutch cheese with a nutty, almost butterscotch note.

Shopping tips: Look for roasted red peppers in the produce aisle or the condiments aisle, often near the olives. Refrigerate remaining peppers in the jar.

Gouda does not come in pre-shredded packets. Instead, look for a small wheel (often covered in wax) in the deli section and shred your own.

Cooking tip: An immersion blender is a cool little handheld stick with a rotary blade on the end to purée soup right in the pot. They're a fairly inexpensive appliance, but you can use a blender if you prefer. Just be sure to allow the soup to cool slightly and vent the top before puréeing to avoid splatters on the ceiling.

Serving tip: If you have fresh basil in the fridge, add a leaf to this brilliant red-orange soup for a bit of gourmet style.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Smoked Gouda

Makes 4 servings (total yield 5 cups)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces

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1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cans (14.5-ounce) reduced sodium, fat-free chicken broth

2 teaspoons dried basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded smoked Gouda

1. Heat olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add carrots, roasted red peppers, garlic, chicken broth and seasonings. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes.

2. Remove from heat. Carefully use an immersion blender and purée soup. 3. Return soup purée to saucepan; add cheese.

4. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted.

Per (1 ¼ cup) serving: 161 calories (43 percent from fat), 10 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), 16 milligrams cholesterol, 15 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams protein, 165 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.

Recipes developed for The Star by home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss.

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