Two weeks ago, if you had told me that a pandemic was coming that would cause school closures, homebound isolation, and toilet paper shortages, I would have laughed in your face! Touché, Covid-19, touché. We are living through strange, unprecedented times. I’m nervous, scared, and tired- but I’m trying to hold on to the positives in this bewildering situation! I’m truly enjoying the extra time spent with all of my sweet boys (with the help of some good wine lol), and I’m trying to focus on gratitude instead of grief. I’m grateful for a healthy family, a safe home, and a stocked kitchen where I find joy and solace. Most of us are cooking a lot more than usual- and, If you’re like me, going to the store a lot less. It’s been a new challenge to plan meals a week out- I’m the type of cook who wakes up in the morning, decides what sounds good, and heads out to shop on a whim for a few random ingredients. That’s not practical right now, so I’m trying to be better about bulk shopping for staples that can be used interchangeably in different recipes. This simple soup epitomizes this style of shopping/cooking. Every ingredient, minus the fresh basil (unless you grow your own), is a pantry essential that can be used a million different ways. This recipe comes together rapidly but has a robust, simmered all day flavor. I use an immersion blender, one of my favorite kitchen gadgets, to coarsely purée the soup after a quick simmer. This technique along with the addition of non-dairy creamer stirred in at the end adds creaminess without overloading with cream! If you can’t find a good non dairy substitute (Nutpods is my favorite), omit it or stir in regular half-and-half. Pro-tip: double the recipe and freeze out portions so that you can thaw for lunches and dinners throughout these quaran-times (and after they’re over). This is best served with a grilled cheese or hunk of crusty bread for dunking!
prep time: 5 min. cook time: ~25 min. serves: 6
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp minced garlic, (2-4 cloves)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1-12 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup basil leaves, divided
2 tsp honey
1 cup Nutpods non-dairy creamer or half-and-half
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the carrot, onion and a pinch of salt and sweat 5 minutes, until softened. Add the thyme, oregano, pepper flakes and garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Stir in the tomato paste to cook for 2 minutes. Add the roasted red peppers, tomatoes, stock, 3/4 cup of the basil, 1-1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper, stir to mix, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook 15 minutes. Remove The soup from the heat and use an immersion blender to blend it to a coarse, uniform purée. *If you don’t have an immersion blender, carefully transfer the soup to a blender or food processor to purée and then pour it back into the pot. Return the pot to the stove and stir in the honey and Nutpods or half-and -half. Check for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed, and cook 2 minutes more. Serve the hot soup in bowls garnished with the reserved basil leaves cut into slivers.