As I move along, developing my cooking skills (and photography skills!), I reflect back on some of the early recipes I posted, and think, "gee, I can improve on that one." I suspect I will always feel that way, and in some cases I have been tempted to take some recipes down altogether, but if I think back to how I felt when I posted the earlier recipes, I felt they were good enough to share, at that time, so even though I'm sure I could improve on them now, they show a definite progression in my own skills, and there is value in that. So, for now, they stay.
Yesterday I had a desire to use some of the banana peppers that I've been growing, and were weighing down my plant. I also wanted to play around with orzo a bit more, as it's now the 'go to' ingredient. This happens to me when I discover a new way to use a well loved ingredient, or I find myself using an ingredient for the first time.
As I scoured the web for ideas, I stumbled upon a vegetable and orzo soup using a canned tomato soup as the base. Hum...I wasn't thrilled with the idea of a canned tomato soup as a base for my beautiful vegetables, so I decided I would make a tomato soup, with a few extra surprises. I can do this, I thought.
I ditched the orzo, and set out to make a truly special tomato soup.
I plucked some banana peppers from my plant, and I was ready to begin. A note about banana peppers. If they grow where you live, give them a try. Mine grow like crazy, don't need anything special, other than some sun, and they are sweet, and delicious. I grew my plant in a bucket with a hole drilled in the bottom, and they have been happy campers all summer. Want them really sweet? Let them get red.
For a printable version of this recipe, click here. (Located at Google docs).
3 lbs. tomatoes, thick sliced (or halved, if they are a smaller variety, like Roma)
1 large white onion, thick sliced (about 1" slices)
1 jalapeño, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
6 banana peppers (or 2-3 bell peppers), halved, seeds removed
5-6 cloves garlic, skins removed
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used chicken stock, and I would do it again)
1-2 sprigs oregano
1-2 sprigs basil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Lay tomato slices, onion slices, peppers and
garlic on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
the pre-heated oven 45-50 minutes, or until well roasted, or until edges of vegetables begin to char, and they take on a bit of a shriveled appearance.
Remove from the oven, and transfer to a large stock pot. Add stock and herbs, and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and
simmer for about 20 minutes. A note about the herbs, you don't need to chop them, as they will break up during the blending step, but either way works. Next time I won't bother, I will just toss the sprigs right into the pot with the vegetables and stock.
When the onions are very soft, using your immersion blender, blend to desired consistency, chunky or smooth...totally up to you.
Add paprika and brown sugar and continue simmering another 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings (salt/pepper). I added a bit of fresh ground black pepper, and a few more pinches of salt. It didn't need much.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with fresh chives.
I made this soup as a side for grilled cheese sandwiches, but it was the star. The sandwiches were just a side show, though on their own, they really were very good, but I'm not sure they would out shine the soup even if they'd been dipped in gold dust.
This soup was incredibly delicious. I intend to make/can more of it so we can enjoy it throughout the winter.
I hope you try this one, especially if you have some fresh tomatoes in your garden, or can get some at your local farmer's market. It really is delicious. This from a girl who was never a big tomato soup fan.