This Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup comes together quickly, is bursting with fabulous flavor and is loaded with lots of healthy veggies!
Scott and I have had the best time exploring the plethora of wonderful restaurants that are in close proximity to our new home in the mountains of North Carolina, near Asheville. Asheville is well-known for its amazing restaurants. In fact, Food and Wine Magazine published an article last November about the restaurant scene in Asheville and referred to it as the Paris of the South. We’ve been delighted to discover that Black Mountain, an adorable little mountain town, even closer to us than Asheville, also has quite a few great restaurants. The inspiration for this Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup came from a charming café/gourmet market in Black Mountain.
I’m not usually a soup lover in the warm summer months, however, the temperatures here in the mountains are much cooler than in Raleigh. Soup sounded good one day last week when Scott and I stopped for lunch after running some errands. Roasted Red Pepper Soup is the restaurant’s “signature soup” and I couldn’t resist it.
With the first taste, I decided it was better than good. Way better! I savored each spoonful and, at the same time, deconstructing the soup in my mind in order to recreate it.
You’ll never believe what I served Scott for lunch the next day. And the following day. And a few more times till I got it just right. It’s perfect now and ready for you!
A few easy shortcuts…
I always like having a few shortcuts up my sleeve that will save time but won’t sacrifice flavor. I employed a few of these tricks with this Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup.
First of all, I used roasted red peppers from a jar. It’s not a big deal to roast peppers in the oven but it does take 25-30 minutes for roasting, another 20-30 minutes for steaming and then more time to peel. That’s close to an hour, just to roast and prepare the peppers. Roasting the peppers from scratch may add a little extra flavor but honestly, I don’t usually have that extra hour to spare. So I’m just fine with someone else doing the work for me.
The second shortcut I used in my Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup is a heaping spoonful of prepared pesto. Pesto is a great condiment to have on hand because it’s full of delicious flavor and it takes the place of 4 other ingredients; basil, garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Store a jar of pesto in the freezer and you’ll always have this magical ingredient on hand. When you want to use it, let it thaw slightly, scoop out as much as you want, then pop the jar back in the freezer.
A few fun ideas…
This soup is delicious on its own (that’s how the restaurant served it) but I like to add some thinly sliced fresh mozzarella while the soup is piping hot and allow it to melt before serving. A sprinkle of chopped rosemary or basil takes a fabulous soup to the extraordinary realm.
See the delicious bread I’m serving with this Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup? That’s my Ridiculously Easy Focaccia Bread. I like to cut it into long slices, brush it with olive oil and crisp it up in a pan over medium heat. It’s wonderful with soups like this one as well as salads (and ridiculously easy to make!).
Café Tips for making this Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup
- Most grocery stores carry roasted red peppers in jars. Look in the area of the canned vegetables. If you don’t find them there, sometimes they’re located in the pickles/olives section.
- This recipe calls for fire-roasted tomatoes. Fire-roasted tomatoes have a delicious depth of flavor. Most larger grocery stores carry fire-roasted diced tomatoes right next to the regular diced tomatoes. If you can’t find them, no worries, just use regular diced tomatoes.
- This soup also calls for smoked paprika, which adds a hint of unique, delicious flavor. You can find smoked paprika in the spice section at larger grocery stores and online. Look for a mild smoked paprika as some can be quite spicy.
- We like this Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup with a little texture but if you prefer a super smooth soup, just puree it a little longer.
- If you use fresh mozzarella to top/garnish this Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup, be sure the soup is nice and hot before adding the cheese. Allow the soup to sit for about 5 minutes before serving so the cheese can melt.
- Sometimes I reserve a small piece of roasted red pepper to use as a garnish. I diced the pepper finely and sprinkle it on top of the fresh mozzarella with some fresh rosemary, for a pretty presentation.
- When purchasing pesto, look for a jar with a fresh green color. I really like the pesto from Sam’s club and Costco. It’s very reasonably priced and will stay fresh for a long time in the freezer. When I want to use it, I just let it thaw slightly, scoop out as much as I need and then pop it back in the freezer.
- Do you have an immersion blender? If you love making soup, one of these inexpensive appliances is indispensable! They’re easy to clean and you don’t have to transfer your soup to another container, as with a regular blender. This one also functions as a mini chopper and is great for making sauces, smoothies, etc.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion roughly chopped
- 8 ounces carrots 5-6 medium-size carrots, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons pesto
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 14.5- ounce cans fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 12- ounce jar jarred roasted red bell peppers well drained
- 1 4- inch sprig fresh rosemary
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- For the topping:
- thin slices of fresh mozzarella for topping for topping
- fresh rosemary or basil for topping
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes.
- Stir in the pesto and cook for another 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Add the broth, fire-roasted tomatoes, roasted red peppers, rosemary sprig, smoked paprika, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high then cover reduce heat to maintain a slow steady simmer. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree the soup, leaving it a bit chunky. If you use a regular blender, allow the soup to cool a bit before blending, then puree in two batches. When blending, remove the cover of the opening at the top of the blender. Insert a small mouth funnel to release the steam while blending or cover the opening with several thicknesses of paper toweling.
- Return soup to the pot and simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste and add salt and fresh ground pepper, as desired. Serve in bowls and top with fresh mozzarella and chopped fresh basil or rosemary for garnish, if desired.
See Café Tips above for additional tips, instructions and ideas for serving.
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