9-10 medium ripe tomatoes, cut in half horizontally and seeded
2 red bell peppers, cut into quarters and seeded
1 medium onion, sliced horizontally
3-4 garlic cloves (peel on, but with stem ends trimmed)
Salt & pepper
1 cup water
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup julienned or chopped fresh basil
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. heavy cream
Grilled Cheese Croutons:
4 slices of white bread
Cheese slices (Monterey Jack, Cheddar, American, whatever floats your boat)
1/4 cup olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 450F.
2. Place the seeded and sliced tomatoes onto a foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. On a second foil-lined baking sheet, place the quartered bell peppers, cut side down, sliced onion and garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
4. Place both baking sheets into the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes or until the peppers are charred (turn the onions once or twice during the roasting period).
5. Remove both baking sheets from the oven. Gather the foil around the onion, garlic and peppers and seal. Let sit 15-20 minutes to let the peppers steam (will make it easier to peel off the skins).
6. After 15-20 minutes, open the foil with the peppers and peel off the skins. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their peels.
7. Add the roasted tomatoes, peeled bell peppers, onions, garlic and any accumulated juices to a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup of water, tomato paste, fresh basil, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt, and sugar. Blend the ingredients for 10-15 seconds or until smooth.
8. Pour the mixture into a medium pot and bring to a boil. Stir in 1 tbsp. of heavy cream and heat for another 20-30 seconds, reduce heat and keep on a low simmer.
Grilled Cheese Croutons:
9. In the meantime, make the grilled cheese sandwiches for the croutons: brush a generous amount of olive oil onto 4 bread slices. Turn the bread over and place your fav cheese onto two of the slices.
10. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the sandwiches, olive-oil brushed sides down, and press firmly with a spatula. Once the bottoms start to brown (2-3 minutes), top the cheese-covered slices with the plain bread slices. Brush the tops with olive oil. Press down with a spatula, then flip the sandwiches over and brown the other side, pressing down occasionally.
11. Once both sides are browned, remove the sandwiches to a chopping board. Cut each sandwich into 1" squares. The croutons can be wrapped in foil and refrigerated for up to 3 days before using (just reheat on the foil, unwrapped, in a toaster or regular oven at 350F for 5-7 minutes).
Ladle the hot soup into individual serving bowls, top with a few grilled cheese croutons, and garnish with fresh basil leaves.
For the Grilled Cheese Croutons: