Red-Bean Soup with Gremolata

Also known as Italian Frying peppers. Cubanelle peppers are large and blocky. They are light green in appearance and they mature red. The thin walls of this pepper make it an excellent choice for frying. This pepper is not hot.

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1 (1 lb) bag dried red kidney beans, picked over and rinsed
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
4 fresh aji dulce chiles, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
2 Cubanelle peppers, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped recao (culantro) or cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (preferably oil-packed), drained
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 1/2 qts water
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
For gremolata:
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 1/2 qts water
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice


Quick-soak beans, then put beans in a large saucepan with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 1 hour. Drain well.

Cook onion, garlic, chiles, Cubanelles, recao, and sun-dried tomatoes in oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 12 minutes. Add bay leaf and paprika and cook, stirring, 2 minutes, then add beans and water and simmer, covered, until beans are very tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Discard bay leaf.

Purée soup in batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids). Reheat over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in lemon juice.

Make gremolata: Stir together zest, garlic, and parsley. Serve soup sprinkled with gremolata and drizzled with oil.

If ají dulce chiles are not available, substitute 1 additional Cubanelle pepper. Soup, without gremolata, can be made 3 days ahead and chilled. Thin with water if desired when reheating.