Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Tomato soup is the quintessential classic. It is a favorite of many, as the go-to comfort soup. The beauty of this uber-simple concoction is how versatile it can be; sometimes I lean sweet, sometimes savory, sometimes spicy, sometimes chunky, sometimes chilled. Each and every version is like a reassuring, culinary hug. This version boasts a little bit of everything and can be adjusted in any way you wish. There's a hint of heat with red peppers and paprika, savory tones of basil, oregano and rosemary, and a slightly sweet finish of aged balsamic. Of course, an open faced, toasted cheese baguette acts as its perfect partner.

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Tomato Soup Ingredients:

8-10 roma tomatoes, cut into chunks

1 red pepper, cut into chunks

1/2 red onion, cut into chunks

5-6 garlic cloves, smashed or sliced

Grapeseed oil, for roasting

4 vegetable stock, prepared

1 bunch basil

1 bunch oregano

A few small sprigs of rosemary

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Himalayan salt and white pepper, to taste

Smoked paprika, to garnish

Grilled Cheese:

1 french baguette, sliced open

1 package of Field Roast Chao Cheese

1 batch of prepared almond-basil pesto (see description below)

Sliced roma tomato

Basil leaves, as garnish

Smoked paprika, to garnish

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. To an oven-safe dish, add the chopped tomato, red pepper, red onion, and garlic. Sprinkle ingredients lightly with some chopped basil, oregano and rosemary. This will not be the only time we will be using herbs to enhance the soup, so no need to go overboard (especially the rosemary). Drizzle with about a tablespoon or two of grapeseed oil and season well with salt and pepper. Transfer to an oven-safe dish and roast for approximately 30-45 minutes, with a quick toss or two in between, until well cooked through and lightly browned.  I just make sure my cuts are relatively uniform, to ensure even browning, but it by no means needs to be perfect.

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Once roasted to your satisfaction, blend the contents in your Ninja, processor, or with an immersion blender in a medium sized pot set over low heat. Blend to smooth or leave it chunky, either way is equally successful. At this point, I very conservatively add in some vegetable stock. The consistency is entirely up to you. I like to keep about 4 cups of prepared vegetable stock on hand for thinning, but sometimes I don't use any of it. 

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To complete the flavor profile, I add in some more basil and a sprinkle of oregano. I do not add in any more rosemary. Those of you who are familiar with this intoxicating herb (and it is one of my favorites), know that less is more. This will still produce a very rich and complex soup; if you wish to keep it lighter, just add in a hint of additional basil and call it a day. Finish with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, a dash of both Himalayan salt and white pepper and...voila.

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Like tomato soup, I can construct grilled cheese sandwiches in about a thousand different ways. My go-to, plant based cheese is, hands down, Field Roast Chao Slices. It is worth every penny, I assure you. I can consume the entire package by itself in a matter of minutes, if given the opportunity. If a more gooey version is more your style, go with Daiya, but for flavor and mouth-feel, Chao is your winner. I toss these babies in the oven after I've finished roasting the tomatoes, so they are ready by the time I've finished seasoning my soup. Just lower the temperature to 375 degrees or so, so they don't burn while your attention is elsewhere.

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For a simple Toasted Paprika such as this, I do like to add a little zip in addition to. Cue in an almond-basil pesto. Featured in many of my recipes, it is a simple blend of soaked and softened almonds (1 cup), about three cloves of garlic, juice of half a lemon, and a small bunch of basil. Add about a tablespoon or two of grapeseed oil, a dash of fine sea salt and white pepper, and blend. A little more oil may be needed to get the job done, which is fine, just don't go overboard and be left with an oily mess. It's meant to be pungent, so don't be shy with the ingredients. A thick paste consistency is the perfect foundation for your sandwich and the remainder keeps beautifully in the fridge for future masterpieces.

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Spread the mixture over the face of your sliced baguettes and arrange the Chao slices in order. Sprinkle with smoked paprika, tomato slices and basil leaves. Toast until crisped to your liking, about 10 minutes.

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Plate your soup and finish with some smoked paprika and basil chiffonade. Pair with your grilled cheese, your favorite seat in the house and set the mood to relax.

Enjoy!