This soup is inspired by Ina Garten's Roasted Tomato Basil Soup. In November of 2015, my 12 year old son suffered a broken jaw in two places while playing capture the flag during P.E. For the six weeks following, he was on a "no-chew" diet. Meaning he wasn't even allowed to chew mashed potatoes.
My son is a very picky eater. Unfortunately for him, his 6th grade field trip to a local college fell during his healing period. The highlights of this trip were to view a nature preserve and eat lunch in the college cafeteria. While his friends and classmates around him enjoyed burgers (his favorite), and pizzas (another favorite), the only thing he could find there that he didn't have to chew was tomato basil soup. When he told me this, I felt so bad for him and told him I was sorry he didn't get to eat his favorite foods. To my surprise though (and his), he actually liked the soup!
With our limited menu of things he could and would eat, I set out to learn to make this soup. Going on my son's description alone ("it was red and tasted like pizza"), I scoured the web in search of something similar. I found Ina Garten's recipe on the Food Network website and tweaked it to use ingredients I had and could easily obtain (and to make it taste a little like pizza). We aren't a family that normally eats soup. We just aren't fans, however everyone of us liked my roasted tomato basil soup.
The following is my version of Ina Garten Inspired Roasted Tomato Basil Soup.
5-6 good sized roma tomatoes, cut in thirds longways
1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced
1 TB butter
1 TB kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 large onion, diced
2 heaping teaspoons of minced garlic (or more if you like)
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
1 14 oz. can whole tomatoes, with juice
1 tsp. pizza seasoning (I use Penzey's)
2-3 sprigs of fresh basil, minced
1 quart of chicken broth
Step 1: Roasting the Tomatoes and Bell Pepper
Preheat your oven to 400˚ F.
Cut your roma tomatoes longways into thirds and remove the seeds with a spoon. Toss the romas and red bell pepper in enough olive oil to coat (about 1/4 cup or less) and season with salt and pepper. Lay the tomatoes and peppers single layer in a roasting pan. Roast for 45 minutes.
You can use other color bell peppers. They all taste the same, however, green bell peppers may turn your soup to an unappetizing brown color. If you want to use green bell peppers for some added flecks of color in the final soup, then don't add the peppers to the blender in step three. Chop them up by hand and add them when you add the basil toward the end.
Step 2: Sauté the Onions and Garlic
While your tomatoes and bell peppers are roasting, sauté your onions, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes in a tablespoon of olive oil and butter over medium heat. Once the garlic starts to turn brown, turn the heat down to low and continue sautéing until the onions brown.
Put the sautéed onions and garlic into a blender.
Step 3: Blending the Soup
My son likes his soup smooth...
Remove the seeds from the canned tomatoes as best you are able and add the whole tomatoes and their juice to the blender with the sautéed onions and garlic.
Once the romas and bell pepper have completed roasting, add them along with the oils and juices from the roasting pan to the blender.
Blend until smooth... or leave it a bit chunky if you like.
Notes: Do not add anything green like spinach or the basil to the blender. It will cause your soup to turn brown. It will still taste good but it will not look appetizing at all.
There should be enough moisture in the blender to blend your tomatoes and onions until smooth, if not, add a little broth or water to it.
It may be tempting to deglaze the roasting pan and add that to your soup. Do not do that. It will make it taste bitter.
Step 4: Add the Broth and Basil to Finish
After you've blended your roasted romas, red pepper, onions and garlic, put them in a sauce pot and add a 32 oz carton of chicken broth (less if you like your soup thicker) with 1 tsp of Penzey's Pizza seasoning and the minced basil. Cook over medium heat until bubbly. Salt to taste.
Chopped fresh spinach is a good addition. Try adding some in this step. I like to serve this roasted tomato and basil soup with nice crusty loaf of bread. The kids like to dip it in their soup. You can garnish it with a little parmesan cheese as well.
This made enough to serve my family of 6. If you want to increase the volume, you could add more broth and a larger can of whole tomatoes. Increase your seasonings accordingly.
I hope you give it a try and like it as much as my family does.