Even though we've had an unusually warm winter so far, once the sun goes down, it gets a little chilly. What better way to warm yourself up than with a hot bowl of soup. I was craving roasted red pepper and tomato, so I got to work.
First, the peppers. If you never roasted peppers before, don't be intimidated. It's easy! Just wash, remove stems, core & seeds. Place cut side down on a baking sheet. I line mine with parchment paper so it's a quick clean up. Put the peppers under the broiler and leave for 10-20 minutes or until the skins are blistered and black. You can then either put them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and leave to cool, or put them into a paper bag, fold the top over to close and let cool. This traps the steam and aids in removing the skins. You can also roast peppers on your barbecue and I've heard that if you have a gas stove, you can just do them over the flame. I might be wary of this method because as the peppers cook, they get soft and squishy and might fall apart. Then you've got a mess to clean up.
The tomatoes are done in the same fashion, only cut side up.
Here's my pot after it's finished simmering. The addition of onions, carrots and vegetable broth make it super yummy!
An immersion blender makes puréeing the soup a snap. If you don't have one, a blender works just fine. You may have to do it in batches though to get a nice smooth consistency.
Add some salt and pepper to taste and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese, croutons, basil sprigs, whatever you think will make a nice presentation. This soup is soooo good. Elegant, fresh and quite rich tasting.
I don't have a panini press, so I used my George Foreman grill which worked just fine. The cheese gets all melty gooey and it tastes fantastic. I've made these a few times and we always enjoy them. You can find the recipe here.
Even Simon agrees that this whole meal looks & sounds tasty!