10 medium-sized tomatoes
3 red peppers
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large or 2 smaller sweet onions, like Walla Walla, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped fine
tablespoon dried basil
pinch red pepper flakes
2 cups vegetable stock
juice of 2 oranges
juice of 2 lemons
1-2 cups heavy cream
avacado, diced (optional)
Turn the broiler on high. Stem the tomatoes and cut in half. Place cut side down on a baking sheet. It might take 2 batches to do all the tomatoes; it did pour moi. Broil carefully, till the tomato skins have black charred blisters and look pretty wrinkly, 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and slip the skins off the tomatoes with tongs or your fingers (be careful, they're hot!). Place the tomatoes in a non-reactive bowl. Repeat as necessary.
Cut the tops off the red peppers. Or do as I do: using thumbs, press the stem inward till it breaks from the flesh, then remove it. Cut the peppers in half the long way, removing the seeds and white membranes. Place cut side down on the baking sheet, and repeat broiling process. The skins are a little harder to remove than the tomatoes. Enlist the help of a knife if necessary. Cut the peppers into strips, then add to the bowl of tomatoes.
In a large, non-reactive stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook 5 minutes, stirring often, then add basil and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking until onions are just about translucent, about 5 or so more minutes.
Add tomatoes, peppers and stock to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool slightly.
Puree soup in batches in a blender. When working with hot liquids, never fill the blender more than 1/3 full. Some recipes now strain the soup, but not me.
Return the blended soup to the pot. Add orange and lemon juice. Taste. Salt and pepper it, and taste again. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Add as much cream as you are comfortable with, then bring the soup up to a gentle simmer again. You might want to taste it again and add more salt.
Serve in a shallow bowl with diced avacado mounded in the center. This soup would go well with a green salad, or even a toasted cheese sandwich.