Whenever I’m tempted to stop cooking and just live on Fruity Cheerios for the summer, I make Jamie Oliver’s Tomato and Red Pepper Soup. It makes the whole house smell like the top of a ripe tomato, bright and peppery. And it goes with everything.

Gooey grilled cheese sandwiches.

Corn cakes with avocado salsa.

Zucchini and corn quesadillas, mushroom and spinach calzones, a big quinoa, corn and avocado salad.

A wedge of Mexican cornbread the size of my head.

You get what I’m saying. And I’ve got a shortcut: pick up a big can of San Marzano tomatoes and a jar of roasted red peppers, and half the work is done. High-five!

Instead of boiling, blanching and roasting the vegetables, you can get straight to chopping, sautéing, simmering at eating.

Just don’t forget the basil-infused olive oil. It sounds like a garnish, but the extra oil makes the soup feel silkier, and the basil smells like pure heaven. Thirty seconds in the food processor. Totally worth it.

So much better than a summer of Fruity Cheerios and scurvy.

P.S. I originally posted this recipe July 11, 2008. The photo, recipe and text have all been updated.

Tomato and Red Pepper Soup with Smashed Basil and Olive Oil

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s “The Naked Chef”

Makes 8 servings

  • 15 ripe plum tomatoes OR 1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 3 medium red bell peppers OR 1 jar roasted red bell peppers, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh seeded red chili (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth*
  • 2 handfuls of fresh basil leaves
  1. If Using Fresh Tomatoes: Using a knife, score a shallow “x” on the tops of the tomatoes. Place in a large pot of boiling water for about 60 seconds. Then transfer them immediately to a large bowl of ice water. Remove the skins and seed. Set aside.
  2. If Using Fresh Peppers: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the peppers on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil. Roast the peppers, turning them every 15 minutes until the skins are blistered and have big black patches. Place them in a covered bowl or large Ziploc bag until they’re cool enough to handle. Then peel and finely chop them.
  3. Warm 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and the chopped red chili (if using) in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  4. Add the chopped red peppers and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add garlic, and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add chopped tomatoes, another pinch of salt, and red wine vinegar. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  7. Add the broth, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. While the soup is simmering, make the Basil Topping: Toss the basil and a pinch of salt in the food processor, and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and stir in the remaining olive oil. Add a drop or two of red wine vinegar. Set aside.
  9. Season the soup to taste, and let it cool slightly.
  10. Using an immersion blender, tabletop blender or food processor, blend the soup in batches, until you get the consistency you want. Ladle your soup into bowls, and generously drizzle each serving with the Basil Topping.

*Gluten-Free Tip: Make sure the broth you use is gluten-free.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving) – calories: 237, fat: 21g, carbs: 16g, fiber: 3g, protein: 3g. (WW PP+ = 7)