I've got such a deep, greedy need for piping-hot, peppery tomato soup at the moment - what could my soul be craving? The colour red? A bit of acidity to balance out my natural sweetness, har har? Or perhaps a hefty dose of healthy lycopene? Woolies and Pick 'n Pay both make very tasty tomato soups, and variations thereof - with basil, with sun-dried tomatoes, with red peppers - but they are somehow not quite peppy and zingy and livid enough for my starved tastebuds. So this is what I made:
Roast Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
5 big, ripe red peppers (capsicums)
10 ripe, sweet tomatoes
a little olive oil
a tin of Italian peeled tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 tsp (5 ml) white sugar
2 T (30 ml) tomato paste (or 4 T, 60 ml, tomato sauce/ketchup)
water or stock to thin
2 tsp (10 ml) Tabasco sauce (to taste)
1 tsp (5 ml) paprika
1/2 cup (125 ml) cream (optional)
a handful of fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly milled black pepper
Preheat the oven to its highest setting (my oven goes up to 220°C. ) Halve the red peppers, remove the stalks and seeds, and any really huge bits of white pith, and arrange, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Halve the tomatoes and place, cut side up, on another baking sheet.
Brush the peppers and tomato halves with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and a grinding of black pepper. Place the baking sheets in the oven (if they won't fit side by side, put one sheet on the top rack, and the other on the bottom, and swop them over a couple of times during roasting). Roast until they are soft and beginning to blacken on the edges (about 30-40 minutes, depending on the ferocity of your oven)
Now turn the heat down to 140° C and allow to bake for another 20 minutes or so.
This is how mine looked after a thorough roasting:
Rub off any deeply blackened bits of skin off the peppers (don't worry about flecks of black) and tip them and the tomatoes into a food processor fitted with a metal blade (you might need to do this in batches). Add the tinned tomatoes and their juice, the garlic, the sugar and the tomato paste. Whizz at high speed until you have a thick, slightly chunky purée. Tip into a large saucepan and bring to the boil, skimming off any foam as it rises. Thin to a soupy consistency with a little water or stock (I like soup quite thick and chunky). Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Now add the cream (very slowly, in a trickle; very acid tomatoes may curdle the cream), Tabasco sauce and paprika. Season with salt and pepper and serve very hot, topped with torn fresh basil and a swirl of olive oil.
By the time I'd remembered to take a picture of the finished soup, I'd eaten it all. Sorry for that.