Sometimes it pays to save old magazines. From an old Sunset Magazine, dated February 1997, comes this quick to make Red Pepper-Tomato Soup that’s perfect for a cold and wet Valentine’s Day. Many aspects of this recipe make it appealing. First, it is low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates. The amount of cholesterol is negligible, especially if you use vegetable stock and do not add any cream garnish. It’s a smooth and thick soup, much like a cream-based soup, but happily without the cream. Second, this recipe requires few ingredients and most of the ingredients are pantry staples. Third, both the red peppers and tomatoes are good sources of lycopene. According to Livestrong.com, Lycopene is an antioxidant molecule found in red-colored fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes. A number of studies have shown that diets rich in tomato products can lower the incidence of several cancers as well as heart disease, possibly due to their high lycopene content. The chemical structure of lycopene gives it a number of antioxidant properties that may in theory help prevent cellular damage and fight off some of the effects of aging and chronic disease.
Show your special someone how much you care by serving them this attractive, heart-healthy, red soup. It’s up to you whether or not you want to add the cream garnish, but you’ll really want the heart-shaped croutons to soak up all that hearty goodness!
Red Pepper-Tomato Soup
Recipe from Laura Sabo for Sunset Magazine
2 or 3 slices French Bread, each about 1/2-inch thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 cup (about 1-1/2 oz.) chopped shallots
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup canned peeled roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained
1 can (16 oz.) tomatoes
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons sour cream or whipping cream (optional)
1. With a heart-shaped cookie cutter or a knife, cut heart shapes (3 inches wide or smaller) out of bread. Lay croutons on a baking sheet and brush tops with about 2 teaspoons oil. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon basil. Bake in 350 degree oven
until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes for a 3-inch-wide heart.
2. Meanwhile, in a 2 or 3-quart pan, cook shallots, stirring often, in remaining 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat until shallots are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add broth, red peppers, tomatoes and their juice, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon basil. Bring to a boil over high heat; cover and simmer over low heat 5 to 10 minutes.
3. With slotted spoon, ladle peppers, tomatoes, and shallots into a blender or food processor; whirl until smooth. Return puree to pan; stir into liquid. Add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Ladle soup into bowls. Spoon dollops of sour cream decoratively over soup; swirl with the tip of a knife through sour cream. Immediately before serving, set heart-shaped croutons on top.
Makes 4 cups (2-3 servings)
1. I used a 12-ounce jar of roasted red peppers. After rinsing and draining, the amount of red peppers came to just a tad over one cup.
2. Although the recipe called for a 16-ounce can of tomatoes, I only had a 28-ounce can available. I threw the whole amount into the pot figuring it couldn’t hurt – plus what was I going to do with the few remaining canned tomatoes?
3. I started with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and found that was enough for my low-sodium taste buds. I added about 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of sugar – this amount will depend on the sweetness of the tomatoes you are using.
4. The dollops of sour cream sank to the bottom of the bowl, so I used heavy cream instead and dragged a toothpick through them to create the “almost” heart-shaped swirls.
Happy Valentine’s Day!