You can easily roast red peppers in the oven if you do not have a gas stove or a grill. Heat the oven to broil.
Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with foil or parchment paper. Place the whole peppers on the sheets and place them in the oven, turning occasionally, until all sides are blistered and charred.
Remove from the oven and put on a plate and cover with a tea towel or plastic for 10-15 minutes.
Remove the stems, peel and seed. Fresh peppers can be roasted ahead of time and refrigerated for a few days or frozen for several weeks.
• 15 sweet red peppers or 1 can (48 ounces) Mancini's sweet roasted (red) peppers, rinsed and drained
• Ice water
• 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted whole butter
• 1 large Spanish onion, cut in small dice
• 1/4 pound (about 3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
• 48 ounces (6 cups) chicken stock or broth
• 2 quarts half-and-half
• 1/2 cup dry sherry
• 1 cup honey
• Salt and white pepper, to taste
• Large homemade croutons, for garnish
• Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
• Add extra stock to adjust the flavor and consistency of the soup.
Using a food processor fitted with the steel blade, whirl the peppers to form a puree. Set aside. You might have to do this in batches.
In a large stockpot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onion and cook gently until translucent, stirring occasionally. Make a roux by stirring in the flour. Cook for about 1 minute to remove the raw flour taste. Do not brown or burn the roux; it should be a "blond" color and have a soft, nutty aroma.
Over medium heat, whisk in the chicken stock to break up the roux (this helps to avoid lumps). In order, whisk in the half-and-half, honey and pepper puree. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 4-5 minutes.
Taste and season with salt and white pepper. Continue cooking for another 4-5 minutes, until thickened and smooth, stirring constantly to avoid scorching.
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each with 3 croutons and a sprinkling of parsley.
Makes about 12 cups.