Preheat your broiler and place the sweet and red bell peppers on a broiler proof sheet pan. Roast them under the flames for a few minutes until charred all over and the skins have turned black. Keep a close eye on them and using a pair of kitchen tongs turn the peppers to make sure all sides get nice and charred. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a tea towel or a lid until cool enough to handle. (Alternately you can roast them on open flame on your stove top, but it might be a little messier that way)
Gently peel the charred skins off of the peppers and discard the core. Set aside until needed.
Make the Soup:
While your peppers are roasting start the soup. Preheat a heavy bottom soup pot on medium low flame.
Add the diced onion with a pinch of sea salt and a light drizzle of olive oil (omit the oil and use water or veggie stock for WFPB Plantricious diets). Sautee together for about 10 minutes until wilted and translucent. Add the red pepper flakes, garlic and smoked paprika and give everything a good stir. Add the San Marzano tomatoes with all their juices.
Bring to a gentle simmer and add the roasted red peppers (reserve the mini sweet peppers for garnish) and bay leaves. Pour in the vegetable stock or water and bring to a simmer again. Cook together on medium low flame for 20 minutes.
Remove the soup from the heat and discard the bay. Using a hand held immersion blender puree the soup until thin to your liking. Add more vegetable stock or water to thin out the soup as much as you like. (Alternatively you can wait to add any water or veggie stock as the last step, some people prefer their soup to be very thick).
Adjust seasoning to taste with more sea salt and serve with a drizzle of Italian parsley pesto and a few toasted pine nuts.
Make the Parsley Pesto:
Add all the pesto ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth to your liking. Add more lemon juice or olive oil to your liking. Drizzle over the soup and enjoy!
WFPB + Plantricious
To make the recipe compliant make sure to saute the onion in water or veggie stock and omit the oil in the pesto sauce or replace it with water.
Storage - As all vegan soups this one also freezes well and keeps up to 5 months in freezer proof containers or mason jars. If storing in jars I recommend leaving the lid off until the soup is almost frozen then tightly secure each jar with the proper lid.
Can I use other tomatoes? - You can, however, as with all things involving canned tomatoes, I will strongly suggest using the San Marzano variety. There is no other tomato like the one grown in the fertile volcanic soils of the San Marzano region in Italy. They’re fragrant, smooth, and naturally sweet - not acidic at all. This means there is never a need to add any sugars to your tomato soup or tomato sauce.
Is there an oil substitute for the pesto? - The soup is technically whole foods, plant based, and oil free. However, the pesto has some olive oil in the mix that can be replaced with water or veggie stock, if desired. Personally, I felt the pesto really needed a touch of oil to emulsify and become rich and silky. Your call!