Day 9: Simple But Perfect Tomato-Roasted Red Pepper Soup

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Who doesn't love tomato soup and grilled cheese? (OK, Denise doesn't. Nor do vegans and the lactose-intolerant.) But I do. I think it's my only comfort food that doesn't include potatoes.

I love plain old tomato soup with grilled American cheese on white bread. I love ultradeluxe tomato bisque made with crème fraiche, cold gazpacho, and fragrant Indian tomato rasam.

But most of all, I love tomato-red pepper soup. Especially with grilled fontina on sourdough-walnut bread. And most especially in the winter.

tomato red pepper soup

Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

1 large can peeled plum tomatoes (San Marzano from Italy really do taste best; look for the letters DOP on the can as some American companies sell "San Marzano brand" tomatoes, which are not at all the same)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 small celery rib, chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
2 large red, orange or yellow peppers
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (pimenton, optional)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups chicken stock, veggie broth or water (whatever it is, make sure it's good quality)
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Roast the peppers over a gas flame (or cut in half and broil), turning often, until skin is black. Place in lidded container for 10 minutes. Peel off blackened skin, seed and chop. I prefer not to rinse the pepper as you rinse off some of the oil and I'm cool with a bit of the skin staying on. If you like, you can rinse after skinning your pepper. Your call. Place chopped pepper in a bowl.

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot or dutch oven. Add carrot, onion, celery, salt and pepper and sweat over low heat, partially covered, until veggies soften. Add tomatoes (with juice), paprika (if using), oregano, and red pepper (with any juice that has collected in the bowl). Simmer over low heat until soup is heated through, about 5 minutes.

Carefully ladle hot soup into a blender (not a food processor, unless you like to blend in several small batches -- food processors don't handle lots of liquid). Or if you have an immersion (stick) blender, carefully lower it into your hot soup. Either way, pulse (carefully … are you seeing a pattern here? Hot soup is no joke) until your soup is smooth.

If your soup left the pot, return it to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream or Greek yogurt, or a drizzle of olive oil, or a smattering of chopped fresh oregano, tarragon or chives. Serve with grilled cheese.


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