Life’s too short to roast red peppers.

Particularly when you can get them from a jar.

I used to avoid any recipe that told me to hold a pepper over a flame, blister its skin, stick it in a paper bag, then scrape away the skin. The results never measured up to the effort and mess.

No, I prefer to roast my peppers on a grill or in an oven, leaving the skin on for a chewy, jammy treat.

Trouble is, some recipes require roasted, peeled peppers. You simply can’t get the same results with their skin-on kin.

That’s why I keep multiple jars of pre-roasted, pre-peeled peppers in my pantry. (I like Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Red Peppers.) Minimally processed, they still boast the same antioxidants and high levels of Vitamins A, C and K as hand-roasted reds. I puree them for dips or to stir into mayo. I saute them with corn for a kicky salsa or relish. I dump them in a pot with other veggies and herbs for a fast, hearty soup.

Like this one. It bursts with end-of-season flavors (peppers, tomatoes, basil) and welcomes the addition of other vegetables you may have lying around (fennel comes to mind; carrots, too). Best of all, it takes no more than 5 minutes to throw together and just 15 or so minutes to cook. That means you can have lunch or dinner on your table in less than 30 minutes.

Try that with a hand-roasted pepper!

red pepper soup

Red Pepper & Tomato Soup

The beauty of this soup isn’t just its color … it’s the speed at which it comes together! Slice everything into big chunks. Once tender, they easily puree in a blender. Feel free to add other vegetables. Likewise, use any kind of liquid you desire.

  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 4 7-ounce jars of roasted red peppers, drained and torn into chunks
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • Zest from 2 lemons or 1 orange
  • 4 cups water, chicken broth or vegetable broth

Glaze a soup pot with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Warm over medium heat.

Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent.

Add the tomatoes, peppers, basil, citrus zest, salt and pepper. Stir to combine, then add the liquid.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Cool the mixture slightly, then puree in a blender. Work in batches and be sure not to crowd the blender!

Serves 8.