This is a variation on a recipe which I found on the internet. I'm always suspicious of those recipes which call for luscious ripe plum tomatoes. I suspect their authors are still harbouring memories of summer holidays in Italy or Spain. I use the tinned variety.
As an aside, am I alone in refusing to pay three times as much for a premium tin of tomatoes as for a supermarket own brand? Yes, if you were to taste them from the tin, I'm sure the difference would be notable. But as no one does that, what is the point? A good slug of tomato purée will add some intensity, and a teaspoon or two of sugar (don't overdo it) will balance the pH levels.
The original recipe simply calls for the soup to be blitzed. I think it's much nicer if you sieve it afterwards. Its glorious red colour makes a cheery start to any meal.
3 large or 4 small red peppers halved, stalks, seeds and white bits removed; 1 large onion, unpeeled and halved; 4 cloves of garlic unpeeled (but remove any of the papery membrane); generous glug or two of olive oil; 2 sticks of celery, peeled and finely chopped; 30g butter; couple of squeezes of tomato purée; pinch of chilli flakes; 450ml chicken or vegetable stock; 1 tin of plum tomatoes; s & p.
Preheat your oven to 200˚C/Mark 4. Put the peppers and onion on a baking tray, cut side down. Scatter the garlic cloves among them. Drizzle with the olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes until the veg are tender.
While the veg are baking cook the celery gently in the butter until tender. Season with a little s & p. When the veg in the oven are ready, chop the peppers roughly. There's no need to skin, but if any parts are excessively charred, cut them off and discard. Take off the outer skin of the onion and chop coarsely. Snip off the top of the garlic cloves and the cooked flesh will squeeze out like a mini toothpaste tube.
Add the tomato purée to the celery and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the chilli flakes. Put the rest of the vegetables into the pan along with the stock and the tomatoes. Season. Cook gently, without boiling, for five minutes or so, then allow to cool slightly. Blitz either in your blender or with a hand blender. For this one, I prefer the former.
Before serving, sieve the soup and correct the seasoning.