While it's hard to believe that summer is gone and fall has arrived, the cooler weather makes it the perfect time to hunker down by the fireplace with a hot bowl of soup. In our house, soup is often the basis for a meal, and while they can span the range of complexity, some of the best are the simplest to make. What parent can't appreciate that?

One of our favorites is roasted red pepper and tomato soup. If your family had a garden this summer, chances are you grew some tomatoes. The delicious fruit livens up any salad or sandwich, and according to a recent study on ABCnews.com, they may protect you from having a stroke.

Roasting the tomatoes and peppers gives it sweet, smoky undertones, and served with a warm lentil salad and a crusty bread makes a delicious hearty meal that your entire family will enjoy

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs of fresh tomatoes (if frozen or canned, see below), skinned and diced
  • 1 large red pepper, roasted and diced
  • 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 thick slice of bread, toasted and chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups of water

Wash tomatoes and pepper and brush with olive oil. If you're using frozen tomatoes, simply thaw and remove skins. For canned, add directly.

Roast pepper by placing it directly over the stove burner for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it and turn it several times for even roasting, then place in air-tight container until cool, about 20 minutes.

Place tomatoes on a broiler pan and roast under the broiler until tops start to brown, about 7-10 minutes. Carefully turn tomatoes over and repeat on other side. Take them out to cool on the pan, about 20 minutes. Save all liquids in the pan.

Once the pepper is cool, clean off the blackened part and take out the seeds. Chop into 1-inch pieces. Peel tomatoes by simply pulling off the skins, working over the pan to capture any liquid or tomato bits. Pour liquid into a large bowl and dice tomatoes into 1-inch pieces.

Heat the oil on medium heat in a 4-quart pan and sauté onions until they are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Blend with a hand blender. Serve hot with warm lentil salad and bread.

Warm Lentil and Tomato Salad

Adapted from Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 2 Tbs oil (I prefer grapeseed, but can use any high heat oil like canola or safflower.)
  • 1 Tbs mustard seed
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 1 small onion, chopped into slivers
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs dried unsweetened coconut
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 1/2 lemon

Cook lentils until they are tender but firm, and drain. Set aside.

Put oil and mustard seeds into a sauce pan and cook over medium heat. Keep pan covered because once the seeds get hot, they pop like popcorn. Once the popping subsides, add the cumin seeds and sauté for 1 minute.

Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add salt and coconut and sauté until coconut starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 1 minute, then add lentils and cook another minute.

Turn off heat, toss in lemon juice, and serve warm.