When Nathan and were thinking up this post we both had one goal in mind…comfort food! We were having an unseasonably warm October here in DC up until last week when it suddenly became winter. Ok, ok…that may sound a little extreme but if you (like me) think it’s too cold when it’s anything below 60˚ then it pretty much feels like Antarctica. So it’s understandable that we made a soup that is reminiscent of crisp weather and fall leaves and begs to be eaten with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich.
Our roasted tomato, red pepper, and basil soup is not your average stuff from the red and white can. Roasting the tomatoes, pepper, and garlic gives the soup a smoky, rich, and complex flavor while the fresh basil (the last of our summer crop!) gives a hint of summery freshness. Just a little cayenne and a touch of cream finishes the soup and the result is a creamy, flavorful blend with just a bit of spicy heat that will warm you from the inside out. And don’t forget the grilled cheese sandwich!
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure what type of wine to pair with this soup. I knew it should be a red but beyond that I didn’t have a strong opinion so my choice of a Zinfandel felt somewhat random. Well, random decision was a success because I honestly can’t imagine a wine being more complimentary and perfect with our meal. The dominant flavors were juicy raspberry and cherry with undertones of spice and licorice. This wine would be a great choice with a variety of meals…especially through the winter!
I’m pretty sure that you could drink just about any type of beer with this soup and it would be good! That being said, I took a gamble on this harvest ale and it turned out perfectly! The label boasts that it is “brewed with 4 varieties of hops and 2 types of malts’ so I was concerned that the beer would have a muddled flavor but I am impressed with how well balanced it is! This harvest ale pours a warm amber color and has a sweet malty aroma. Pine and citrus hop flavors stand out prominently at first taste (similar to what you would expect from a pale ale) but are quickly balanced with a rich malt flavor as you swallow. A perfect beer for transitioning weather and a perfect beer with our soup!
Roasted Tomato, Red Pepper, and Basil Soup
Loosely based on this recipe
Makes about 8 cups
4 pounds tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 large red bell pepper, halved lengthwise
10 garlic cloves, left unpeeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
½ cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste (we used about 5 tsp. of salt…make sure you use plenty because the salt is key to making the flavors pop!)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
2. Arrange tomatoes and red pepper, cut side up, in 1 layer in a large 4-sided sheet pan and add garlic to pan. Drizzle tomatoes, pepper, and garlic with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Roast tomatoes and garlic 1 hour, then cool in pan. Peel garlic cloves.
4. Cook onion and sugar in butter in a 6-to 8-quart heavy pot over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
5. Add tomatoes, pepper, garlic, basil, and stock and simmer, covered, 20 minutes.
6. Puree soup in batches in a blender and return to a cleaned pot. Stir in cream and salt and pepper to taste and simmer 2 minutes.