Last summer, when good tomatoes were plentiful and I wanted to incorporate them into as many recipes as possible, I made a delicious chilled tomato and red pepper soup. It was meant to be a variation on gazpacho, but with a whole new attitude.
I've been really into soup-making lately. I'm up to my neck in stock. I am forever roasting chickens, saving the carcasses in the freezer, boiling them down when I think I have enough, then freezing the stock for future use. Soup allows for lots of creativity. It can make all sorts of vegetables taste better (except for peas of course). It's the perfect pack-and-go lunch too.
While trying to come up with a soup for this week, I remembered my chilled tomato-pepper soup from last summer. It had been a good soup. I missed it. I wanted to make it again, but in a way that would make sense in the middle of winter when cold soup isn't very appealing and good fresh tomatoes are a distant memory.
I squeezed my brain until this idea came oozing out. I swapped the fresh tomatoes for canned ones and added chicken stock to the pot. I did not thicken the soup with almonds (or anything else), but kept it at a looser consistency. For extra protein I added sausage (I wanted chorizo, but couldn't find any, so I used chicken andouille). I flavored it the same way as the summer soup with paprika and sherry.
This soup was a nice winter warmer with all of the fresh vegetable tastes that I love. It both brings back memories of a happy summer evening, and promises to create new memories to make winter bearable.
This soup can totally be made vegetarian with a swap out of stocks and the elimination of the sausage. Perhaps the ground almonds from the summer recipe would be a nice addition to a vegetarian version of this soup.
Hot Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup
1 quart chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 half a head of garlic
4 red bell peppers
2 20 oz cans crushed or diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
2 Tbl sherry
5 link pre-cooked spicy sausage, sliced (optional)
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Halve the peppers and remove ribs and seeds. Place on a cookie sheet with the garlic and cover lightly with olive oil. After 15 minutes, remove the garlic. Roast peppers another 5-10 minutes, or until the skins begin to char and wrinkle. Remove from oven. Peel skins off of the garlic and the peppers (if the peppers give you a hard time with the skins, you can seal them up in a plastic bag for a few minutes, but don't panic if the skin doesn't completely come off as it won't kill you). Chop the peppers into chunks.
Place stock in a pot. Add the chopped peppers,the garlic and the tomatoes. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the sherry, salt, and paprika. At this point you can either blend the soup with a stick blender, or puree it in batches in a food proceesor or blender. In any case, blend till smooth.
Stir in sliced sausage and enjoy.