Monday, October 1, 2012

Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

Fall is officially here! I am not sure about you, but this is my favorite time of year and my latest recipe for Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup is the perfect dish to welcome in autumn.  It's a spin on the classic tomato basil soup but instead of roasting just the tomatoes, I roasted the onions, garlic and I threw a roasted red pepper into the mix as well.

This soup is easy, delicious, comforting AND healthy.  It’s very low in fat and tomatoes and red peppers are excellent sources of vitamin C.  So if the change of weather has you feeling under the weather, this is an excellent soup to make.  Also, this is great for my fellow "Single Cooks."  The ingredients make about 2 entree portions or 3-4 appetizer or side portions.  So for all the ladies and gents who cook for 1 and hate a ton of leftovers, this is the soup for you! And if you're not cooking for 1 like me, simply double the recipe.  Enjoy!

2 lbs Tomatoes
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Small Yellow Onion
1 Head of Garlic
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
1 large handful of basil leaves (plus more for garnish)
2 cups Vegetable (or Chicken) Stock
Parmesan Cheese (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil.  Quarter the tomatoes and arrange them in one layer on one baking sheet.  Then, cut the bell pepper in half, remove the ribs and seeds and place the halves on the second baking sheet. Peel and quarter the yellow onion and place them on the second sheet as well. (see below)

 The next step is to prep the garlic for roasting.  You only need 2-3 cloves for this recipe but I found that roasting the garlic while it’s still in the paper gives it so much more flavor.  So what I did was cut a 3-clove cluster of garlic from the entire head.  Then I cut about ¼ of an inch off the top of the garlic cloves. I poured a few drops of extra virgin olive oil onto the top of the cloves and added it to the pan with the onion and pepper. (see left)

Now toss the tomatoes, bell pepper, and onion in extra virgin olive oil (about 1/3 of a cup), season everything generously with salt and pepper and place the pans in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the vegetables (especially the bell pepper) have begun to get a nice char. (see pictures below)  Then, remove both sheets from the oven and, using tongs, immediately put the bell pepper in a Ziploc bag and seal it. 

Allow the pepper to steam and the other vegetables to cool for 10 minutes.  Then, remove the pepper from the bag, peel the skin off of the pepper and add it to a food processor or blender.  Add the tomatoes, onion and 2 roasted garlic cloves (they should pop right out of the paper) to the processor or blender and pulse until ingredients have been blended and combined.  Next add the basil leaves and pulse a few times more. Then add a bit more salt and pepper to taste.

Blended soup w/ stock added
Pour all ingredients into a medium sized soup pot and turn the heat on to medium high.  Stir in the stock, bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 10 minutes.  Check the seasonings one more time and then ladle the soup into bowls.  Top with parmesan cheese and a chiffonade of basil leaves. (Chiffonade means to thinly slice, but torn basil pieces work too!)

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