Thursday, January 22, 2009

Perfect Soup for Dinner

Yesterday I decided not to go to the store for my regular run. I was tired and wanted to rest. I even snuck out of the office at lunch to get gas for the car so I wouldn't have to on the way home.

So as you can imagine, dinner was going to be easy and simple. But I wanted something satisfying and comforting. I had all I needed to make a hearty pot of tomato soup. It's on! But wait! There was a surprise ingredient in the fridge I had forgotten about. Let's kick it up a notch. At the last minute I decided to quickly roast a red pepper and add it to the mix. This was still tomato soup as the pepper only accounted for about 15-20% of the body of the soup, but its participation at the party was exciting nonetheless!

Tomato & Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup

I started by sauting one diced onion and two garlic cloves in about 2-3 TB of olive oil. I seasoned the onions with salt, pepper, dried oregano, one bay leaf, a small pinch of cayenne pepper and 4 sprigs of fresh thyme. Let cook until the onions are tender and starting to caramelize. Add one roasted red bell pepper cut into large slices. Add tomatoes. In this recipe I added one 28 oz can of pured tomatoes and one 8 oz can of tomato sauce. Allow to simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes.

Carefully add soup to a food processor or blender. And working in batches, puree until smooth. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender OR, just carefully dice all your ingredients and have a chunky, hearty, "country-style" soup.

Return the soup to the pot, again, over low heat. Add a small amount of chicken broth to thin the soup slightly. For a slight tang, add about 1/2 a teaspoon of red wine vinegar. The final touch is optional, but highly recommended. Prior to serving, stir in 1/2-3/4 cup of heavy cream for a rich, velvety texture and mellowing of the various bright, acidic flavors.

You may ask, if you're mellowing the acidic flavors, why add vinegar? I like to elevate those bright flavors, almost to a point where I wouldn't want to have the soup, so when I add the cream, you are left with this soup that plays with all your taste buds. You're not left with a hotly acidic soup or a flabby, creamy, dull soup. You get it all! You have sweetness from the tomatoes. There are acidic tones from the pepper, vinegar and again, the tomatoes. The floral, grassy notes from the herbs. A warmth from the cayenne pepper and the lush, rich component of the cream.

And this is very easy! You cook a few things for a few minutes. Open some cans and simmer some things for a few minutes. Blend, then stir. I got away with this in 30 minutes. I think you can do it 15 if you are in a hurry. Basically once the onions are done, you just want to make sure everything is warm.

Of course, any form of tomato soup is only enhanced with a grilled cheese sandwich!

1 comment:

Dancer in DC said...

Is there anything better on a cold winter's day?

For last night's soup I found the pepper really asserted itself as the dominant flavor. And that's just fine!