Now that football has started and the weather is cooling down more and more each day, it is time to harvest the last of our garden’s gifts! This is a bittersweet time for me, but I love the challenge of mix and matching the produce we find still clinging to the vine to create something. My favorite way to burn of the remainder of items is a roasted veggie bisque. Tomato Bisque is a personal favorite, as it pairs perfectly with a grill cheese, but no one ever said there couldn’t be any tweaks to make this classic a little healthier and rounder in flavor.
For my recipe, I love to create depth of flavor with a few different cooking techniques. I use my broiler to get a deep caramelization and a little char on my tomatoes and peppers. This brings sweetness and some depth to some otherwise watery ingredients. In order to get that rich velvety texture I crave in my tomato bisque, I often blend in a little butter, but for this recipe I will be throwing a curve ball and using cashew butter for richness and kidney beans for velvety texture. Both ingredients help to create a very tasty final product, but they also bring a considerable amount of protein to a soup that traditionally is a little lacking in the protein numbers. In the end, this soup checks in at about 23-25g of protein for a 14-ounce serving!
To begin making this soup, turn your oven up to 475°F or set your broiler to low if you have that option on your oven. While that is heating, you can begin cutting your tomatoes into 3/4-inch chunks. I choose to use vine ripe tomatoes, but the nice thing is you can use any tomatoes you have or want to use. I have made this with cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes, canned tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes and beef steak tomatoes. Along with the tomatoes, I also like to rough chop a red bell pepper which will give you a nice sweet flavor. When you are finished with both of those, you can toss them with a little oil, salt and pepper. Spread them out on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet pan and put in the oven and on the top shelf if you are broiling.
While those are cooking, slice up your large onion, celery and garlic. I like to slice my onion into thin slices to allow them to cook quickly and the same goes for the celery and garlic. Perfection is not needed here because in the end we will be pureeing all of this, so do not stress! Once these are cut, you can heat your soup pot on medium-high, add three tablespoons of oil and throw in the onions, celery and garlic. Make sure to stir these up and season with your salt and pepper. Since we want these to caramelize down you can stir occasionally and adjust the heat so that you are not frying them but you should hear a low soft bubbling and steam should be coming out the top of the pot.
At this point, check your tomatoes and peppers. You want a fair amount of browning and some char is a great flavor to complement the soup's natural sweetness.
At the 10-15 minute mark, your onions should be turning a nice brown color and smelling sweet. If they need more time and you see they are starting to stick just add a drizzle of additional oil and a 1/4 cup of water to help keep them cooking but to slow them down and avoid sticking. When you feel good about the amount of color and the tomatoes are starting to loss their shape you can transfer all of the tomatoes and pepper into a blender and as soon as the onions are ready transfer them into the blender as well. If you need, this can be done in multiple batches.
Let them blend! Starting slow and working your way up in speed, you want to puree all of this together and make sure to give it a few minutes to get truly silky smooth.
When you have pureed it well, pour the vegetables straight back into the same pot you had the onions cooking in. Using the same blender (don’t bother cleaning it). put in the drained kidney beans and cashew butter and star pureeing these together. You may need to add some stock but don't add too much too fast because you want to allow the items in the blender to have some friction with each other. This allows you to get them smoother because they will simply spin if you have to much stock in to early.
When you are happy with the texture and you don’t see too many kidney skin flecks, add this mixture to the pot. This is when you can add optional ingredient like any herbs you may like. I choose to add a teaspoon of dried thyme and dried oregano. Mix it all up and bring it to a simmer for 3-4 minutes and adjust your thickness with your stock to your liking.
There you go! You have made a unique and high protein soup that lets you utilize the last of the garden’s bounty. All that’s left to do is make a quick grilled cheese and pop on the football games because this is one of my favorite Sunday dinners to enjoy on a crisp fall day.
Protein Packed Tomato and Pepper Bisque
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Inactive time: 5-10 minutes
3-4 pounds tomatoes (vine ripe or plum roma), rough chopped
1 red bell pepper, rough chopped
1 large yellow onion, sliced thin
3 stalks celery, slice thin
1 can kidney beans, drained
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cashew Butter
2 cups chicken stock
4-5 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 475°F or low broil. While oven heats, toss your tomatoes and peppers in 2 Tablespoons of oil, then season with salt and pepper. Spread on parchment-lined baking sheet and place on top rack. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until browned and tomatoes begin to lose their shape.
- Heat thick bottom soup pot on medium-high heat. Add remaining oil, onions, celery and garlic to pot and stir well. Season with salt and pepper and allow to caramelize.
- Place tomatoes and peppers in a blender. Add onions when they are soft and browned, puree and pour the puree back into the pot.
- In the uncleaned blender, add beans, cashew butter and half of the chicken stock. Puree then pour into the pot and adjust the thickness with the remaining stock.
- Season and bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Serve hot.
To learn more soups to include in your fall cooking repertoire, join us for Autumn Soups and Stews demonstration class on Saturday, November 14 at 10am at The Chopping Block Lincoln Square. You'll learn how to make:
- Cassoulet (White Bean, Turkey Sausage and Chicken Stew)
- Curried Lentil, Swiss Chard and Chickpea Stew
- Udon Noodle Soup with Shrimp, Mushrooms and Sweet Chili-Lime Broth
- Cream of Brussels Sprout Soup