Grilled cheese is serious business at our house. It’s one of the few meals that every member of our family will eat (without crying and complaining about how gross dinner is and asking what the kids get to eat and then crying harder when I tell them they don’t get a different dinner). Anyway. The adults in our house also love tomato soup. We’re dippers and sippers. We usually have our soup in a mug. We dip our sandwiches, and when they’re gone we finish off the soup like a drink. It’s total comfort food…I grew up on it. Well, with the wagon full of tomatoes we picked the other day, I’ve been trying to get creative to use them. I plan on freezing as many as I can, but I also want to eat as many I can while I can. Because there isn’t much that compares to a fresh tomato, ripe off the vine. Now that some of the days are getting a little chilly, it’s officially soup season at our house! (I love soup season. A lot.) Enter: Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Basil Soup!
Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Basil Soup
3 roasted red peppers, rough chopped (click HEREto see how to roast your own. don’t be scared, it’s easy.)
5 large tomatoes, skins removed, rough chopped
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 tsp thyme
2 tsp paprika
garlic salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
generous pinch cayenne pepper
generous dash of your favorite hot sauce
10 leaves of fresh basil, torn into thirds
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 Tbsp flour
Saute onion and garlic over medium heat in a stock pot until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and peppers. Cook until the juices are slightly reduced. Add the thyme, paprika, garlic salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, hot sauce and basil. Using an immersion blender, or blending in batches (mine actually fit in one batch), process until smooth (or leave it a little chunky if you like. I don’t. Not for tomato soup.) Add back to the stock pot if necessary and add the veg or chicken broth. Melt the butter in a small bowl and stir in the flour. Add to the soup and thoroughly combine. Let simmer for about 25 minutes. Makes about 8 servings.
*To remove tomato skins, lightly score an X into the bottom of the tomato. Gently drop into boiling water, remove after 30-60 seconds. Place directly into an ice bath until tomato is cool. The skins will slide right off.
*I have to say it. This is the best tomato soup I’ve ever had, including canned, boxed, restaurant, semi-homemade, etc. This is also the best caprese sandwich I’ve ever had, including the one I had at a restaurant that’s been highlighted on at least one food show I like to watch. Waaaaay better. So much better. I wish I could make this for everyone I meet. It’s so fabulous. I’ve made it for a number of family members and friends, and the look on their faces after that first bite…it says, “I knew you said this was going to be a good sandwich, but it’s way better than I thought it would be. It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever tasted. Start making another one now. Right now. MOVE!”
Red peppers are one of the best reasons to grow a garden. They’re flavorful, delicious, great for snacking and cooking, and they’re so versatile. You can put them in sandwiches, salads, burgers, or on eggs or pizza, or even use them in hummus. I love roasted red peppers! I bought a jar once at Costco, but after they stopped carrying them, I decided I would learn how to make my own. It’s so EASY! There are several methods, but this is the way I like to do it, because I think it’s the easiest!
You need a foiled-lined rimmed cookie sheet, an oil sprayer or non-stick spray (this is optional), and your beautiful peppers.
Preheat your broiler. Mine has a high and low setting, I use high. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the stem, membrane and seeds.
Give the foil a light spray of oil or non-stick spray and place them cut-side down. Then give the peppers a light spray of oil. I use my handy dandy oil sprayer because it’s cheaper than buying can after can of non-stick spray, and then it doesn’t have all the additives.
You don’t have to use oil, but I’ve done it both ways and the skins seem to peel off more easily if I give them a light spray. Try it both ways. If you don’t need the oil, then save some calories and don’t use it!
Look how pretty they are…just waiting to be charred!
Put them in your oven and wait for them to turn black! I set my timer for 5 minutes, and then just watch them carefully after that. These are just starting to char.
They don’t always char evenly, so I usually have to pull them out and rearrange them. The peppers in the middle tend to take a little longer in my oven. You want them nice and charred…these went back in the oven for some more black!
(You can also do this with whole peppers, and you can do them on the grill or over a gas burner, but this is the easiest way for me. And I always like to follow the path of least resisitance.)
Once they come out of the oven, put them directly into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, or into a ziploc or brown paper bag. They need to finish steaming so you can easily peel them. Let them sit for about 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes the skin should easily peel off and you should be left with beautiful, delicious roasted peppers!
Then do something fun with them, like roasted red pepper hummus!
My boys helped me dig some potatoes for our 4th of July family bbq. My job was to get the potatoes out of the ground, their job was to put the potatoes in the bag to carry into the house. It made me oddly happy that my 5 year old told me I was good at harvesting potatoes. It also made me happy that I found three different varieties, and they just happened to be red, white & blue…on the 4th of July!
I tried to be really careful with my little pitchfork thing when I was digging them out, but some of them still got roughed up. I figured it didn’t matter much since I was going to smash them anyway!
After I washed and boiled them, I arranged them into a patriotic potato flag on my baking sheet. Just because I could. On the 4th of July.
If you’re digging your own potatoes (and please do, I’ve never tasted anything like a new potato out of my garden! they’re buttery and creamy and tender and amazing. everyone should have potatoes in their garden!), be sure to wash them well. Don’t scrub so hard that their tender skin comes off, but be sure to get all the dirt off. Line your baking sheet with foil and drizzle with oil (or if you’re like me, use your handy little oil sprayer). Mine had canola oil in it, but olive oil will give it a richer taste.
Smash them with a potato masher. Be gentle.
Drizzle or spray with more oil, then sprinkle them with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic powder, and fresh chives. I think rosemary would be fabulous, but I had chives in my garden, so that’s what went on.
Bake them until they’re crispy and beautiful, and you’ve got the perfect 4th of July side dish!
20 new potatoes
fresh ground pepper
chives, minced (or other fresh herb)
Wash potatoes and boil for 15-20 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. Spray or drizzle with oil. Arrange potatoes on baking sheet and gently smash them with a potato masher. Spray or drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chives. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and beautiful.
I’m one of those people that gets really excited for zucchini. I love it. I love it a lot. And it makes me really happy to eat it. I love it in bread, I love it roasted, I love it in cake & brownies, and I know I’ll love it in the recipes I’ve been pinning! (There are a lot.) Roasted zucchini is so fabulous, we’ve had it twice this week, and I can’t wait until I have more zucchini ready to pick!!
4 zucchinis (or as much as you need/have)
fresh cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking pan with foil, spray with non-stick cooking spray. Cut zucchini into thick slices, about 3/4 to 1 inch in thickness. Place on pan. Sprinkle liberally with seasoning salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle conservatively with cayenne pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until tender. Then try to get some before your husband eats it all!
He kept eating all the zucchini, it was hard to get any pictures!