On a cold wintry day when you’re needing some serious TLC, there isn’t a much more soothing food than a warm bowl of tomato soup. Although I didn’t grow up with tomato soup as a true comfort food this recipe has turned my world upside down. I am a complete believer in the “power of the bowl” on a dreary winter day to cheer my mood and soothe my soul.
It has become one of my favorite soups, because it not only tastes wonderful but it is loaded with nature’s most nutritious foods all blended together to create a healthful masterpiece. Plus if you’re feeling down or a little under the weather, this is just what the doctor ordered. It’s loaded with vitamins A and C from the tomatoes and bell peppers and an intense cancer fighter called lycopene found in tomatoes. The garlic, fresh basil and thyme all add additional anti-oxidant properties.
I was lucky to enjoy a bounty of garden-grown tomatoes last summer so made batches of this soup and froze most of it so that is what we’re enjoying this winter. But even if you don’t have garden-grown I recommend you purchase vine-ripened tomatoes. Fresh basil is always available and for convenience I use bottled roasted bell peppers. They are even more tasty than fresh peppers.
Roasting the tomatoes takes some time, but the result is a much more intensely flavored tomato taste. Plus the roasting (both tomatoes and bell peppers) concentrates the nutrient value making the vegetables even more healthful. I like the soup on the thicker side, almost like a spaghetti sauce texture, but if you want it thinner just add more chicken broth or don’t reduce it down as much.
I hope this soup provides you as much comfort as it does for me. Serve with a grilled sour dough cheese sandwich cut into small bites or top with baked Parmesan cheese croutons for the best comfort food combination on the planet. Happy New Year!
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- Roasted Tomato and Bell Pepper Basil Soup
- 8 medium or 6 large tomatoes (3 lb total), halved and seeded
- 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1/2 sweet onion, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes, with juice
- 1 cup roasted red bell peppers (from jar or roasted from fresh)
- 4 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp fat free half and half
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Shaved Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the tomatoes on a large baking sheet, cut sides down, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Roast for about 45 minutes.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a medium stockpot placed over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic; cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, roasted red peppers, fresh basil, thyme and chicken broth. Stir in the oven roasted tomatoes (with juices). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for about 30 minutes over medium-low heat until reduced by a third, stirring occasionally.
- Puree the soup in the stockpot using an immersion blender or transfer soup to a food processor or blender; cover and process until smooth. Return to stockpot and stir in half and half. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with Parmesan cheese or grilled sour dough cheese sandwich cut into small pieces.
*The majority of the total time is 45 minutes roasting and 30 minutes simmering.
Recipe source: adapted from Ina Garten’s Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
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