With the way the weather in Cincinnati plunged into winter this weekend, I’ve spent the past two days craving warmth in every way possible.  I am the biggest baby when it comes to the cold- just sit me by the fireplace, and wake me up when it’s summer again.  No? That’s not an option? Ok, fine- I’ll spend my days in the kitchen basking over the heat of the stove then.  My first winter creation, Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Basil Soup.  I know, it’s a mouthful to say, but you won’t mind as soon as you have a belly full of this delicious dish.

I’ve always sort of been obsessed with tomato basil pasta sauce.  Before I was vegan, I used to pour it on my eggs nearly every day.  I also used to stir it into ground turkey, spread on toast, or simply eat a spoonful out of the jar from time to time.  My love of this sauce has me asking- why has it taken so long for me to make this soup?…a recipe designed for me to spoon straight into my mouth.

I always see red pepper + tomato being combined in dishes, so I decided to add roasted peppers in as well to create another layer of flavor.  If you’ve never roasted your own peppers before, you will be surprised at how easy it really is, just follow my step-by-step tutorial later on in this post.

While typically it’s a grilled cheese that goes with tomato soup, I like to play my “grown up” card and substitute my homemade Ricotta Bruschetta with Onion Jam instead.

Jazz it up a little bit for date night by adding a drizzle of cashew cream! Simply puree raw, soaked cashews with a bit of water.
Jazz it up a little bit for date night by adding a drizzle of cashew cream! Simply puree raw, soaked cashews with a bit of water. Or, if you want this to be a “Creamy Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Basil Soup” soak half to one full cup of raw cashews, puree with equal parts water, and stir the cream into the soup a few minutes before serving.

 

How To Roast Red Peppers:

Place dry peppers on a baking sheet while you preheat your oven broiler.
Step One: Place dry peppers on a baking sheet while you preheat your oven broiler.
Step Two: Place peppers directly under the broiler, turning on each side to all sides are completely black.
Step Two: Place peppers directly under the broiler, turning on each side to all sides are completely black.
Step Three: Place blackened peppers in a covered bowl or brown paper bag for 15 minutes.
Step Three: Place blackened peppers in a covered bowl or brown paper bag for 15 minutes.
Step Four: Peel off blackened skin, slice peppers open, scrape out the seeds and discard.
Step Four: Peel off blackened skin, slice peppers open, scrape out the seeds and discard.
Step 5: Place pepper slices in food processor and grind until smooth.
Step 5: Place pepper slices in food processor and grind until smooth.

 

Ready to make the soup? Here’s what you need:
Ingredients:
2T + 2T olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded, and pureed
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2-3 cups vegetable broth*
4 ounce package fresh basil (3/4 cup-1 cup packed leaves)
1T onion powder
1T stevia
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp fresh thyme, optional

Method:
If roasting your own red peppers, follow the method described above.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and celery, and sauté until the onions are tender and translucent, 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic, stir until fragrant, 1 minute.  Stir in the tomato paste until combined with the veggies, then pour in the pureed roasted peppers, tomatoes, and half of the broth.  Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Add the basil and spices, and adding more broth as your determine the texture of your preference.  Allow to simmer at least 15 minutes, but as long as you’d like.

If you would like the soup to be more smooth, allow to cool slightly and transfer the contents of the pan to a blender, and carefully blend until it forms a smooth puree. Or, if your pan is tall enough, stick an immersion blender straight in the pot to puree. Note: I avoid both of these steps by finely chopping the veggies in a food processor before cooking, and then just enjoying the soup with a little bit of texture.

*Add more or less broth depending on how thick you prefer your soup to be