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Leek and Carrots Soups with Croutons

5 tb Butter or margarine; divided
4 Leeks; trimmed green parts thinly sliced (1 lb. )
4 Carrots; thinly sliced
2 Ribs celery; sliced
1 sm Red or green pepper; diced
1 ts Lemon zest; grated
1/2 ts Dried thyme
1/2 ts Pepper; dived
3 cn Chicken broth; (13 3/4 oz)
6 sl Bread; about 6 oz.
1/4 ts Salt
Fresh parsley; chopped; opt

In pot melt 2 tbsp. butter over medium-low heat. Add leeks, carrots, celery, diced pepper, zest, thyme and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Cover; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in broth. Bring to a simmer; cook 10 minutes. Meanwhile, position over rack about 6" from heat source; preheat broiler. Melt remaining butter. In large bowl toss bread cubes, salt and remaining pepper with butter. Spread on ungreased baking sheet. Broil, turning once, until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle soup with parsley, if desired. Top with croutons just before serving.

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