I used to dislike tomato soup. I think that’s because I only knew of one variety – from a can, mixed with milk or water. Blech! But then, la Madeleine came into my life.
Most people are familiar with the French word “madeleine” meaning this:
A small shell-shaped cake made of flour, eggs, sugar, and butter and baked in a mold.
But it also means this:
Something that triggers memories or nostalgia.
My first taste of la Madeleine’s tomato basil soup triggered no such thing for me. It was an experience my American palate had never had. The culinary illuminati hailing from the French countryside had shown me a better world. With God as my witness, my tongue would never be left with the tinny aftertaste of slurped canned soup again!
And then I moved to Tennessee.
La Madeleine was nowhere to be found. I was back to shelved soups. But others must have had Scarlett O’Hara moments too because soups (especially the organic ones) were being packaged in boxes. This led me to try a roasted red pepper and tomato soup that I actually liked . . . a lot. For five years I said I was going to learn how to make my own version, and make it better. That time has come.
This is how I thank what used to be my two favorite tomato soups in the world. Sorry guys, you’ve been replaced, but we thank you for the training.
Here’s a tip. Be picky with your tomatoes. Spend a few extra cents for a really good brand. They are, after all, the star of the show. There is a roasted, organic brand that I use for my spaghetti sauce. It would go nicely in this recipe.
- Stock/Soup Pot
- 1 (28 oz.) Can Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 (14.5 oz.) Can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp. Oil (Olive oil works nicely, but use what you have.)
- 1 Tbsp. Butter
- ¾ Yellow Onion, Chopped
- 6 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
- ¾ Cup Dry White Wine
- 4 Cups Chicken Broth (See my Homemade Chicken Broth Recipe here.)
- 30 Large Fresh Basil Leaves, Chiffonade (cut in strips or ribbons)
- 6 – 8 Small, Sweet Red Peppers
- Approx. ½ Tbsp. Oil (Not olive oil.)
- 1 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1 Plastic Bag
- Salt to Taste
- Pepper to Taste
- Sour Cream (optional)
- Hot Sauce (optional)
Chop onion and garlic. Place 2 Tbsp. oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in pot at medium high heat. Add onion and garlic to pot and sauté for 2 – 3 minutes, careful not to scorch garlic. Add a dash of salt as they sauté. I like to season every layer when I’m cooking. It makes a real difference in taste.
Add dry white wine. Simmer for 3 – 5 minutes.
Open tomatoes. Cut off any hard ends of whole peeled tomatoes – they never soften in the cooking process. Add crushed and whole tomatoes to pot.
Add salt to taste. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover, leaving a small vent for steam to escape. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, wash and dry peppers. Place oven rack on top level. Coat peppers evenly with oil. Extra virgin olive oil will burn. A vegetable oil is best. Arrange peppers in single layer in baking dish (I used a cake pan). Place on top rack in oven and broil.
Turn peppers and broil other side.
Add to pot. Simmer soup with peppers for an additional 5 minutes.
Warning: Be careful. If your soup is too hot when you try to blend, you will literally blow the lid off. If you have an immersion blender, I envy you, and by all means use that!
Add blended soup back to pot. Add heavy cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Madeleine: Dictionary.com. Definitions retrieved November 6, 2012, from: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/madeleine.