If you can’t find sweet Italian frying peppers, substitute with a sweet red bell pepper.
- Serves: 4
- 4 pounds roma or plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
- 3 sweet red Italian frying peppers
- 1 head garlic, loose papery skins removed and top 1/4-inch trimmed
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
- 8 sprigs thyme
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- pinch of crushed red peppers
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup cream
- 2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
- 1/4 cup basil, chopped
- grated parmesan cheese, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tomatoes and garlic cut-side up in a single layer on baking sheet. Add peppers to baking sheet (if using a bell pepper, slice in half and place cut-side up on baking sheet). Sprinkle thyme over tomatoes. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and sprinkle with a teaspoon salt and sugar. Roast about 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool until easily handled. Discard thyme sprigs. Remove tomato skins and pepper skins and seeds; set aside. Remove garlic bulbs from paper, and smash bulbs with a fork; set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until starting to brown, about 8–10 minutes. Add crushed red peppers, stock, and bay leaf. Stir in tomatoes, peppers, and half of the garlic paste (reserve other half for some garlic toast). Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low, remove bay leaf, and using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth (alternatively, blend in batches using a traditional blender). Stir in heavy cream and simmer for additional 3–5 minutes. Off heat, stir in chopped basil and brandy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with freshly-grated parmesan cheese and serve with garlic toast.