Meatless Monday: Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

December 6, 2009

Yes, dear readers, I am one of those suburban moms who convinces herself that she has a life because she is in…a book club. It’s pathetic, I know. But at least my book club actually reads the book assigned, and we avoid the Oprah recommendations. It’s piss-small solace, but it’s enough for me.

The Divas Book Club meets every six weeks at Chez T. It wasn’t always so; members used to rotate turns hosting. But then I gave birth to Miss M. and started having “babysitter issues.” In short, there were extremely few people willing to babysit my almost 4-year-old with “newborn anger” and a needy baby. I kinda didn’t blame them. I didn’t want to watch them, either.

Thus, I ended up hosting every time. I provide the basics: soup, salad and bread. The other members bring wine, appetizers and dessert. It works pretty well, although the lax attitude towards the RSVP in Colorado once led to a meeting with soup and about 10 desserts. But believe me, nobody complained.

In the four years that I’ve been making soup, several challenges have been thrown into the mix. One member was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Another couple of members are cutting meat from their diet. Suddenly, the good old Chicken Noodle standby was no longer an option.

It’s been an interesting transition, but I enjoy the opportunity to try new recipes out on them. This is the one they always come back for.

Zingy Roasted Tomato Soup

4 pounds ripe tomatoes, quartered
7 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and halved
1 medium onion, diced
1 quart vegetable stock
1 10-oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained
1 28-oz can fire roasted tomatoes (such as Muir Glen)
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup half and half (optional)
Creme fraiche or sour cream and fresh chopped parsley to serve

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty foil. Place the fresh tomatoes, garlic and jalapeno on baking sheet. Toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Roast until charred, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool.

In a large stockpot, add 2 more tablespoons olive oil and heat on medium-high. Saute onion until translucent. Add stock and tomatoes, breaking up tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Add roasted tomato, garlic and jalapeno to pot. Simmer 15 minutes. Add roasted red peppers and cumin; cook 5 minutes more. Cool slightly, then blend with an immersion blender. If using, stir in half and half. Bring gently back up to simmer and taste for salt and pepper. Serve in warmed bowls with sour cream and chopped parsley.

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