Creamy Tomato & Roasted Pepper Soup

What is the perfect thing to have with a warm Italian panino?  Of course………..tomato soup.  But, not just any tomato soup.  This is creamy tomato and red bell pepper soup with fresh basil.  I made this for some of my girlfriends for lunch and it was a nice way to round out the panini sandwiches and fun conversation.

The way to start any soup is to begin with aromatics, which adds depth of flavor.  That comes from the onions, garlic, dried thyme and tomato paste.  Layer in salt and pepper as you go.

When the onions are soft, add two cans of whole tomatoes.

Break up the tomatoes with your wooden spoon and add one can of chicken broth.  Let that come to a boil and then cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

Drain the roasted peppers and dump them in.

Let that come to a boil.

Add in the 10 leaves of chopped fresh basil.  Test the soup for salt and pepper and then let it rest for about 10 minutes, to cool.  I also added some sugar to tone down the acidity a bit.

Slowly ladle half a blender full of the soup and let it blend until smooth.  Do the same with the remaining soup and dump it all back into the pot.

Here’s where the creamy comes in.  The half and half just gives the soup a great smooth mouth feel.  It also tones down the bite of the tomato.  Overall , if you like tomatoes and soup then you will absolutely love the flavor of this soup.  And the best part is, I make extra because soup always tastes better the next day!

Creamy Tomato & Roasted Pepper Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp dried thyme

2 Tbsp tomato paste

Salt, pepper

2 (28 oz) cans whole tomatoes

1 can chicken broth

1 (12oz) jar roasted red bell peppers

10 leaves fresh basil, chopped

2 tsp sugar, optional

1 cup half and half

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy pot on medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, thyme and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato paste and cook until incorporated, just 1 more minute.

Add tomatoes, red peppers, and chicken broth and let simmer for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the flavors have melded together. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, and the sugar, if needed. Add basil, and puree using blender until smooth. Add half-and-half and stir.

Makes 8-10 servings.

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Tomato Bruschetta

Once in a while, my husband and I have dinner dates at home.  We feed the children dinner and send them off to bed a little early so we can have some fun in the ………………….kitchen, of course!  What were you thinkin’?

This tomato bruschetta is my husband’s specialty.  Yup, he’s cute and he can cook.  What can I say?  I’m a lucky girl!

On these dinner dates at home, we do appetizers for dinner.  In addition to bruschetta, we have smoked salmon, a cheese platter and some Italian deli meats.  I think that finger foods are romantic too.  Yes, there is fresh garlic in the bruschetta, but we’re both eating it so the smell cancels out!

 

 

Good tomato bruschetta must start with good tomatoes.  So don’t skimp on that.  Make sure they are plump and ripe.  Fresh basil is of course a must as well.   Since we’re going down this route, make sure you have good olive oil and balsamic vinegar too.

We have found a wonderful way to use the bruschetta leftovers too.  The next morning, my hubby makes a cheese omelette and throws some of this on top.  Pure genius and it gives a good kick to your breakfast.

 

Tomato Bruschetta


Topping

6 roma tomatoes, chopped

3 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup fresh basil, stems removed

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

For toast

1 French baguette

olive oil

2 garlic cloves, cut in half

 

Preheat the oven on broiler setting.

In a medium bowl, combine the roma tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 10 minutes.

Cut the baguette into 3/4-inch slices. On a baking sheet, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer and drizzle some olive oil over them. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, until slightly brown.  Rub the cut side of the garlic on each slice of baguette.

Top the baguette with tomato mixture and enjoy!