I used to think I didn’t like bell peppers at all, until I had roasted red peppers. Green peppers are bitter (to me) and the red ones aren’t much better, when they’re raw. Roasting caramelizes the sugars in them and brings out their natural sweetness. Before the roasting discovery I avoided peppers (especially the green ones) like the plague – picking them off pizza, eating around them on salads and bypassing them on relish trays. I never would have imagined that I would eat them in soup, much less come up with my own recipe.
The sweetness of the roasted peppers nicely offsets the slight acidity of the tomatoes. The peppers give the soup more body and depth than a straight tomato soup would have. With a concession to the seasons, I used canned tomatoes, but I can’t wait to try this soup again with garden tomatoes (and peppers) in the summer.
You can’t get much simpler than this – roast the peppers with shallots and garlic. Puree the roasted veggies with a little chicken broth and then heat with tomatoes and a few spices before serving. If you want a totally smooth soup, blend the tomatoes too. It’s a beautiful soup to brighten dreary winter days. Whip up a batch and dream of summer sunshine and warmth.
Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 4 generous servings
2 large red bell peppers
1 large shallot
1 tablespoon olive oil, approximately
2 large cloves garlic (or 4 small ones)
2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon dried basil, or more, to taste
about 10 grinds of black pepper
a few dashes ground cayenne, or to taste
salt, to taste
Grated or slivered Parmesan cheese
Crackers, croutons or bread
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Cut peppers into about 4 pieces each and discard tops and seeds. Place peppers skin side up on baking sheet. Peel shallot and cut in half. Add to baking sheet. Drizzle peppers and shallot with olive oil. Peel garlic cloves and set aside. Roast peppers and shallot for 10 minutes. Add garlic cloves to the middle of the sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil and return pan to oven for 20 minutes more. Remove the garlic cloves and shallots early if they start to brown too much.
Combine roasted vegetables with broth in a blender and blend until mostly smooth. You can also use an immersion blender or food processor.
Pour the blended soup into a 3-quart pot and set over medium heat. Add tomatoes, basil, black pepper and cayenne. If you want a totally smooth soup, add the tomatoes during the blending step.
Bring soup to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low so the soup just simmers. Cook for about 15 minutes, then taste for salt. You may not need any because of the broth and canned tomatoes. Serve with Parmesan cheese and crackers, croutons or bread.
Soup reheats well. Freeze for longer storage.