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Just Like When I Was Five

There are some meals that will always remind you of being young. PB&J, mac & cheese, and tomato soup with grilled cheese. When I was in college, my friends and I got so excited on tomato soup and grilled cheese day. I want to mention that I was very fortunate to attend a college that took such an interest in providing both a quality education and quality food for their students, so don't get the wrong idea. Anyway, I've been on a mission to eat (somewhat) more healthfully, so I've been making a lot more vegetable-heavy meals. Enter a new tomato soup recipe!

Roasted Tomato Soup
Courtesy Sunny Anderson

8 Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
2 red peppers, quartered and seeded
1 med onion, quartered
8 cloves garlic
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
6 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup loosely packed chiffonade basil leaves
Special Equipment: Blender or immersion blender

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

On a sheet pan, gently toss together the tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic, thyme, 2 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the tomatoes and red peppers, skin side up, and bake until lightly charred, 45 to 50 minutes.

In a soup pot, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the tomato paste and mix well. Add the tomato and pepper mixture, including the juices, and combine. Stir in the stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Transfer the soup to a blender(or use an immersion blender) and pulse in small batches that reach only about a third to halfway up the side of the jar. Be careful to start slow then increase the speed to blitz the ingredients until smooth. Use a separate bowl to hold the blended soup and then return it all to the pot.

Heat the soup to warm through, then ladle into serving bowls and garnish with basil.

*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

Look at that beauteous bounty! I love the brightness of the tomatoes already.

I have become a big fan of having my oven do most of the work for me. This is actually the most time-consuming, labor-intensive part of the whole meal.

Cooking in red! How can you not be excited about a food this vibrant?

Of course, what is tomato soup without grilled cheese. Well, here's the part where I come clean. I can't make grilled cheese without burning it. I don't know why. Mike didn't believe me, so I actually had to show him the proof.

Now, you can and should use any cheese you like, but I had some Bleu Gouda leftover, so I used that. Such a good choice, but more on that later.

Ah,my good friend basil. I have had so much basil this summer, I feel like I should smell a bit like it. Anyway, I'm not great at the chiffonade technique, but I'm getting better. I don't think I'm rolling the leaves together tightly enough.

There she is, my beautiful soup. Don't you love that bright green against the orange-red of the soup. Almost like Christmas colors. Not a bad Christmas-time soup choice either, but, then again, is there really a bad time for tomato soup and grilled cheese. Speaking of my unfortunate sandwich, see it there? No? Oh, well, I understand. It's blending in with the black plate. How embarrassing. We all have our Achilles' heel. This is mine.

I can honestly say this is the best tomato soup I have ever had. And it's so easy and makes enough for six! How can you beat that? It's sweet and a little tart from that balsamic vinegar, but has a great base from the onions and stock. So amazing! And my Bleu Gouda was actually really good despite the char! I think it was just on the surface. The sort of sour Bleu flavor was a really good contrast to the sweet of the soup, and the smokiness of the Gouda played really well with the flavors my oven put in the veggies as they were roasting. Oh yeah, and remember it's healthy! Whether the people in your house are five, fifteen, or fifty, they will love this timeless combo.

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