Lynda Balslev: Sheet pan soup
The late summer season yields bushels of produce, namely sweet peppers, corn and tomatoes. At the same time, the cooler air invites warming layers and soups. This recipe is a perfect bridge for the moment.
Roasted summer vegetables create a sweet and flavorful base for this soup. A sheet pan (or two) of these vegetables is roasted in the oven until the vegetables are slightly shriveled, soft and sweet, then blitzed to make a deeply flavorful puree that is fresh and warming at once. The roasting process coaxes out the vegetables’ sugars and amplifies their flavor, while a generous shower of aromatics adds layers of spice and heat to the soup. Fresh corn kernels are stirred in at the end for a juicy pop of sweetness and crunch in each bite.
Taste the soup as you make it, since the flavors of the vegetables may vary slightly, and adjust the amount of spice and salt as needed. If you like chile heat, consider adding a seeded jalapeno or Fresno pepper to the mix of roasted vegetables.
The consistency of the soup should be slightly thick, but still runny enough to call a soup. You can thin it with additional stock if it’s too thick. I use a good-quality chicken stock as a savory base. If you prefer a vegetarian option, use water or a vegetable stock. Just be sure to taste the soup and adjust the seasonings as needed.
Roasted Vegetable Soup
Prep Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: Serves 4
8 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 large red bell peppers, seeded, quartered lengthwise
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, cut into 6 wedges
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 cups chicken stock, or more as needed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Corn kernels from 1 small ear of corn
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
Arrange the tomatoes and peppers, skin side up, on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Add the onions to the pan without crowding. (Divide between 2 baking sheets if needed.) Lightly drizzle the vegetables with oil. Transfer to the oven and roast until the vegetables are soft and slightly charred, about 30 minutes, rotating the pan(s) once or twice. Remove from the oven and cool slightly, then peel away the skin from the tomatoes and peppers. Discard the skins. Coarsely chop the vegetables.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, paprikas and chili flakes to make a slurry, then add the roasted vegetables and stock. There should be enough stock to cover the vegetables; add more stock if needed. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Carefully transfer the soup to a food processor and process until smooth (or use an immersion blender). Return the soup to the pot. Stir in the corn and season with the salt and black pepper. Taste for seasoning. Simmer the soup for about 5 minutes more to heat through. Serve warm, garnished with the cilantro.
Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay area
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