I just returned from a weekend away and discovered seven huge, funky, end-of-season tomatoes in my refrigerator where I'd thrown them for safe-keeping days prior when I dashed out the door to the airport. The days of Caprese salads are sadly over for this year, but for those of us who have a few misshapen, soft-in-spots tomatoes kicking around the kitchen, there are options for using them up. Tomato soup is one of my favorites.
I dug into our archives for a post I wrote years ago about an Egyptian Tomato Soup recipe, but it was spicy, and I had a spice-adverse child to feed. So I went to work on the recipe, adding sweet red roasted peppers, using olive oil instead of butter to fry the onions and garlic, and leaving out the pimientos which I didn't have anyway.
A squirt of lime gives the soup a lively note, like salsa, and with that extra added layer of complexity, you seem to suddenly have a rather pleasurable soup that only took about 10 minutes to make. What a miracle.
If you're reading this outside of tomato season, don't worry, there's a place for you at this tomato soup table. Just substitute canned tomatoes; no big deal.
I rather like this new version. My kitchen is cleared out of lingering summer tomatoes, and while my daughter got her mild bowl of soup, I had something I could adorn. For heat I flicked a pinch of some Basque ground chili pepper. And miraculously, my little one slurped down her portion and asked for more in the next day's lunch box.
Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup
Makes 2 quarts, about 8 to 10 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced, or 5 to 8 cloves roasted garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice; or 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 cup sliced roasted red peppers 1 (32-ounce) box chicken broth, or 4 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 lime cut into wedges
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, and salt. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. Add the roasted peppers and tomatoes, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes. Add the stock, optional chili powder and paprika, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Using an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender, working in batches), puree until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with fresh lime to squeeze on top.
This soup can easily be made vegan by replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock. To put the spice back in, drizzle with chili oil or a pinch of ground chili pepper.