Annie Bell's Two Pepper Soup

Oh so red, and with a touch of spicy heat, with an Oriental treat on the side.


1. Coarsely chop the peppers. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add half the peppers and fry for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly coloured, glossy and softened. Transfer these to a bowl and cook the remainder in the same way in the residual oil, adding an extra tbsp if necessary.
2. Add a little more oil to the pan, followed by the onions, carrots and celery and fry for about 5 minutes until softened and starting to colour, again stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic, chilli and ginger and cook for a few minutes more. Add the reserved red peppers, the tomatoes and the wine and cook until well reduced, then add the water, a good dose of salt and the sugar, bring to the boil, cover and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes.
3. Liquidise the soup and pass it through a sieve, then taste for seasoning. If you wish, serve with a chilli in the centre and a grinding of black pepper.

Five-spice chicken sticks

* Cut 2 free-range skinless, boneless chicken breasts into 2cm-3cm chunks and toss in a bowl with 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 peeled crushed cloves garlic and 1 scant tsp five-spice powder. Cover and chill for 1 hour.
* Peel 1 red onion and cut into 2cm-3cm chunks. Thread the chicken and onion on to 8 x 12cm skewers, alternating 2 pieces at a time. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Season the kebabs, drizzle over a little oil and fry for about 2 minutes per side on all four sides or until golden and cooked through. Serve with lime wedges briefly seared in the pan.

Grilled broccoli and sesame salad

In a small frying pan, toast 1 tbsp sesame seeds, stirring constantly until lighly coloured. Set aside. In a pan of rapidly boiling salted water, cook 400g trimmed tender-stem broccoli for 3 minutes, then drain well and place in a bowl. Toss with 2 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 tsp sesame oil and some seasoning. Heat a ridged griddle over a medium heat. Grill the broccoli in batches for 2-3 minutes each side until nicely coloured. Arrange on a serving plate and scatter over the sesame seeds. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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