Bluffs Advocate

Flavours

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

The BBQ works in the winter, too

By Scott Tait

            Winter is here. The flowers in the backyard are memories and the pain in my back from raking leaves has just enough time to dissipate before it comes back from shoveling the snow. No matter how much effort I put into getting the yard ready for its white blanket, there will be something I miss and have to replace in the spring. So far my poor Bodhi tree suffered the first frost and is doubtful for survival. But Buddha is forgiving. I hope?
Just because there’s snow on the ground and a bite in the air doesn’t mean BBQ season is over. Remember what you have outside is an extension of your kitchen. You paid good money for whatever you have sitting out there so why only use it during the summer and fall?
            Everyone loves soup. Everyone has their own memory of tomato soup and a grilled cheese on a cold, cold day. Why not introduce a little warmth through fire and smoke to the experience. Knock the snow off your BBQ, put your gloves on and go for it. Remember it’s all about having fun!

To roast your vegetables:
Peel and roast all vegetables cut in like sizes so they cook at the same time. Leave the tomatoes and red peppers whole. Chop the top off a complete head of garlic, pour some olive oil on it with a dash of salt and pepper and wrap it in tin foil. Put this on the grill to roast with the vegetables until the cloves are soft and squeezable. Keep an eye on the garlic as it will burn quickly—you should be safe for about 20 minutes.
I roast on my Big Green Egg over my choice of wood. Usually I keep it light with a fruit wood but have ventured to oak and hickory. What you would do in the oven, you do on your grill. If you have a gas grill, build a smoke pouch and let it do its thing. Roast around 350F for around 20 to 30 minutes.

To make a smoke pouch:
Use 1 part dry (1/4 cup) and 2 parts wet (1/2 cup) wood chips. Wrap in tin foil and form into a log. Pierce the foil so the smoke can get out. Place in your grill. The dry will start burning first and the wet will start later.

To make your soup:
Put a large pot on medium heat and enough olive oil to just cover the bottom. Add all your roasted, chopped, and sliced ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon but hold back the tomatoes and peppers. Squeeze in your garlic.
Cook for around 10 to 15 minutes with the lid askew, making sure all the ingredients are soft.
Pour in 1.5 liters of low sodium chicken stock (if you have homemade all the better). Stir and then add to the pan your tinned and roasted whole tomatoes and red peppers (charred skin removed). Add basil (save some for garnish) and bay leaves. Give it a good stir and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until all the ingredients are soft and can be blended.

To finish your soup:
Remove the pan from the heat and pull the bay leaves out. Using a hand or standing blender, pulse the soup until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper. If you want a creamy soup, add a dollop of sour cream or a dash of heavy cream. Garnish with a few fresh basil leaves. Fresh or homemade bread will seal the deal!

Ingredients:
2 carrots
2 sticks celery
2 medium onions
1 head of garlic
olive oil as needed
1.5 liters low sodium chicken stock (vegetable stock if you prefer)
1 large tin of plum tomatoes
4 large ripe tomatoes
2 red peppers
1 small bunch fresh basil
2 bay leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¾ cup wood chips (your choice)
tin foil

Be well and eat well!

Scott Tait is an avid outdoor chef in The Beaches and can be followed on Facebook at The Artisanal Grill and on his blog at TheArtisanalGrill.com

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