As writers of books obsessed with food, sometimes we stumble over recipes that would be perfect for a book—but we just turned it in, or it just went past edits to the “don’t even sneeze, we’re going to print” stage, and it’s too late.
Which is one reason we love sharing recipes with you on this blog.
If I had made this soup a few months ago, it would be featured in ASSAULT AND PEPPER, a book set in early fall, the time when we start thinking about soup. But hey, it’s February, and in my neck of the woods—and probably yours—that’s prime soup season. The smoked paprika gives this an unexpected woodsy flavor. Fresh basil is widely available year-round, even in my small mountain town, although I’ll confess, I made this one night with a sprinkle of dried basil on top and it still tasted marvelous.
Chunky Tomato-Bell Pepper Soup with Cheese Toasts
Adapted from Country Living Magazine
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste (if you have to open a can to make the recipe, go ahead and use the whole can; it will thicken the soup, but in my house, no one complains!)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 - 28 ounce can or 2 - 15 ounce cans diced or crushed tomatoes (if you find a variety with basil, even better)
1-1/2 cups vegetable broth (I use Pacific Organics, low sodium)
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
Grilled Cheese Toasts
one thick slice of fresh bread or three slices of baguette per serving; sourdough, multi-grain, or French all work beautifully
one clove garlic
2 tablespoons grated cheese per serving; cheddar, Parmesan, or Asiago are particularly tasty
Stir in tomatoes, broth, sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes.
Make the toasts: Preheat oven to broil. If your broiler has multiple settings, choose the low setting and adjust the rack accordingly. Drizzle olive oil on each slice of bread. Rub with garlic. Top with grated cheese. Broil 2-3 minutes, until cheese is golden and bubbly. Cut the toasts in half diagonally, or let them cool slightly and cut them into croutons.
While toasts are broiling, stir the cream and basil into the soup and season with additional salt and pepper. Serve, with the toasts or croutons.
Makes 6 servings, more or less, because when it comes to soup, who’s counting? And it reheats nicely. I resisted the temptation to draw a smiley face on the soup, but you don't have to!
ASSAULT AND PEPPER, March 3, 2015 (Berkley Prime Crime)
available for pre-order now.
Leslie Budewitz is the only author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction—the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, for Death al Dente (Berkley Prime Crime), and the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction, for Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books).
Connect with her on her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter, @LeslieBudewitz