Roasted red pepper and tomato soup with tortellini

Autumn is upon us. As the mornings grow crisper, and the trees that line Kuzguncuk’s main street become gilded, I’m revelling in the change of seasons. It may still be 20˚C and gloriously sunny, but I’m still revelling in the fact that the Starbucks in Taksim has started selling Pumpkin Spice Lattes and there are leaves on the ground that I can kick.

Roasted vegetablesThe other day I was craving a warming autumnal soup. I’d seen a lot of great recipes for tortellini soup around, but I didn’t fancy a clear, brothy soup. Instead, I was after something thicker and more substantial, more of a puree than a soup.

This turned out to be the perfect solution. Roasted red pepper and tomato soup is nothing new, but I’m a big subscriber to the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” philosophy of life. This soup is popular for a reason. The key is roasting all the vegetables together until they gain a good char, and making sure to include plenty of garlic in your baking. The addition of tortellini just before serving give substance, so you really don’t need to eat anything else. Cook the tortellini separately until just before al dente, and add only when you’re heating the soup to serve. Because no-one likes mushy pasta or starchy soup, after all.

Getting saucy

Serves: 4 as a substantial meal

Time needed: 1 hr 15 mins

What you need

500g ripe medium tomatoes, halved

2 long red peppers, roughly chopped

4 fat cloves of garlic, unpeeled

2 red onions, chopped into fat chunks

3 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

4 skinny green Turkish peppers (or 1 green bell pepper), diced

2 medium tomatoes, diced

3 cups hot stock (chicken, vegetable, whatever takes your fancy)

1 x 250g dried tortellini

Roasted red pepper and tortellini soup

How to make it

  1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
  2. Place the tomatoes, red peppers, garlic and onions in a shallow baking tray. Arrange the tomatoes cut side up, and tuck the other veg in around them. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, and generously season. You might need to shake the tray around to make sure everything is well coated.
  3. Roast for 30-45 minutes, until the edges of the vegetables are starting to blacken. Check their progress half way through, and give the tray a careful shake to prevent any sticking.
  4. Remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Remove the fat garlic cloves from the mix – these should have gone soft and mushy inside their skins – and set aside. Tip the roasted vegetables and their accumulated juices into a bowl and cover with cling film. Squeeze the garlic gently to slide the cloves from their skins, and set aside.
  5. Next, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, toss in the chopped green peppers and fry until the edges begin to brown, and the peppers are aromatic.
  6. After around 5 minutes, add the chopped tomatoes. Use the tomato juices to deglaze the pan if the frying peppers have started to catch. Stir briskly, until the tomato-pepper mixture has become saucy and delicious-smelling.
  7. Tip in the roasted vegetables, including the garlic cloves, and simmer for a few minutes until saucy. The roasted tomatoes will give up more of their juices on stirring.
  8. Add the hot stock, and stir everything well. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  9. While the soup is simmering, prepare the tortellini according to pack instructions. Remove from the heat when slightly before al dente, drain and rinse with cold water to prevent the pasta from clumping together.
  10. Remove the soup from the heat, and allow to cool for 10 minutes or so. Then use a hand-held blender or food processor to blend the soup into a thick puree.
  11. Return to the pan, add the tortellini, and heat through once more. Serve topped with basil and grated cheese.