So here’s the first recipe. I just ate two bowls of it, myself.
I grew up hating tomato soup. I think it was because all I ever had was the canned, condensed variety. I always thought it was odd that I didn’t like it because I have always loved tomatoes. I used to eat tomatoes out of my grandmother’s garden as if they were apples. I will say that there is nothing better than a fresh, off the vine, sun ripened tomato! Delicious!
Anyway, one day I was in Nordstrom and decided to have lunch there with my sister and my daughter. My daughter ordered the grilled cheese sandwich and it came with a side of tomato basil soup. I decided to give it a try and what do you know, I DO love tomato soup, after all. I started looking for recipes that mimicked the soup I stole from my daughter and once I had that down, I began improvising with the recipe. Eventually I decided to incorporate red pepper into the soup and that led me to this recipe. It is an amalgamation of many different recipes, but largely improvised by me. It is a little spicy, so you can certainly dial back the kick by lessening the amount of red pepper flakes you put in, or discarding the seeds of the jalapeño. That is the great thing about cooking. There is always room to tailor a recipe to your exact taste.
1 large sweet onion, chopped
several cloves of garlic, minced or chopped (I use 7-10)
1 small shallot, minced
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle on peppers
4-5 red bell peppers
1 jalapeño pepper
2 28oz cans San Marzano tomatoes, hand crush and remove any hard parts
1 quart chicken stock
1 tsp red pepper flakes
15-20 fresh basil leaves, cut into strips (chiffonade)
parmesan cheese (optional)
Cut red peppers in half (from stem down), remove seeds and stem. Cut jalapeño in the same way, but keep seeds intact. Place both peppers and jalapeño on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, place under the broiler and broil until skins blacken and bubble, turn and roast the undersides as well. remove from oven, cover and set aside. In a large stock pot, saute garlic and shallot in the olive oil until softened and just beginning to brown. Add chopped onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, pepper flakes and halved jalapeño, let simmer. Peel skins off red peppers and hand tear into pieces, add to soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about an hour, add basil and simmer 15 minutes more. Puree with an immersion blender until it is at the desired consistency. Ladle into a bowl and add freshly crumbled or sliced parmesan cheese. Enjoy.