This is from the last Cooking Class of our marathon Valentine Day themed classes. This time brunch and the menu was:

Roasted Piquillo Pepper and Tomato Soup, Baked Farm Fresh Eggs atop Grits with Bacon “bits” and wilted Greens, Poached Pears with Creme Anglaise.

The soup was a real hit:

2 Tbl olive oil
2 shallots, diced
1 fennel bulb, stalks removed and bulb sliced
1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and chipped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 – 14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
2 – 7 oz jars Piquillo peppers, drained well
3-4 cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper, to taste

Creme fraiche or sour cream for garnish
Minced fennel fronds for garnish

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots, fennel, apple and carrots. Saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for a minute. Add tomatoes, piquillos and 3 cups vegetable stock. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Puree the mixture in a blender being careful not to fill more than 1/3 full when working with hot soup. For a perfectly smooth soup you can then pass it through a chinois. This is an optional step.

Add salt and pepper to taste and more stock if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of fennel fronds.