During the colder months of the year, nothing is better than a warm and comforting bowl of soup — this roasted tomato and bell pepper soup fits the bill perfectly. The roasting of the tomatoes, garlic and red bell peppers adds a slightly smoky depth to the soup, with a bit of sweetness from carrot and creaminess from half and half. Perfect to pair with a nice crusty, warm baguette and a light salad. It also keeps well for 3 days in the fridge and makes for great leftovers.
Serves: 4 (can be doubled)
Total cook time: 90 minutes
4 Roma tomatoes
6 garlic cloves, whole and peeled
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 medium red bell peppers
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
salt & pepper
1 Tbsp tomato paste
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 cup of packed fresh basil leaves
1 28-oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 cup half and half (or cream)
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the Roma tomatoes in half lengthwise and toss them with 1 Tbsp olive oil, then lay them cut side up on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. During the last 10 minutes, add the garlic cloves to the pan. Chop the garlic and tomatoes into small, rough pieces and set aside.
While the tomatoes are roasting, char the red bell peppers whole over an open flame on your gas range or BBQ until the skins are completely black. (You can also do this under the broiler in your oven.) Place the charred peppers in a closed paper or plastic bag and allow to steam for 10 minutes. Remove the charred skins with your fingers (the outside will simply slough off as you rub it), under a light stream of running water. Open the peppers, remove the seeds and veins, and roughly chop. Set aside with the roasted tomatoes and garlic.
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and carrots and sauté gently until the onions are soft and translucent, but not brown (about 7-8 minutes). Add a bit of salt and pepper and stir well. Add the tomato paste and stir until well combined. Add the thyme, basil and the can of tomatoes (including the juices), breaking up the tomatoes with your hands into rough pieces. Stir in the chicken broth. Add the chopped roasted tomatoes, bell peppers and garlic and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, then purée the soup (in batches if need be) in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Return to the pot and stir in the fish sauce and half and half (or cream). Taste for seasonings and add salt & pepper to taste.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, and if desired, decorate with a couple swirls of half and half (or cream) and a few drops of olive oil. Enjoy your roasted tomato and bell pepper soup!