Smoked Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup (with Chipotle Tortilla Crisps)

When we were kids and would go to restaurants (which was very, VERY rarely) we weren’t allowed to order a beverage.  When the waiter asked “And to drink?“, before we could open our mouths my mother would stand on her chair and scream “NOTHING!  Nothing to drink!  WE DON’T NEED DRINKS“.  Drinks cost money and Betty and Norm weren’t spending perfectly good money on liquids.  It’s not like we were destitute.  It’s just one of those funny quirks every family has.  And lemme tell ya, a night at The Ponderosa is slightly less enjoyable when you’re washing down your overcooked steak with a glass of mashed potatoes.

Basically we’re all like camels now.  I can eat an entire bag of Salt & Vinegar potato chips chased with a peanut butter sandwich without injesting a single ounce of liquid.

One liquid we were allowed to purchase was soup.  Soup came with free crackers, so it was kindd of like we were making money.

A year or so ago I took a cooking class.  It revolved around a menu of pork belly and tomato soup.  I don’t even like tomato soup.  I wasn’t thrilled, but it was the only class that still had spots available so I signed up.

The recipe for Smoked Tomato Soup With Roasted Red Peppers proved what I’ve always believed.  Even if you don’t like a certain food, if you eat it prepared properly, by a chef … you’ll probably change your opinion.  (unless we’re talking about Brussells Sprouts)

Chefs have a certain way of doing things the rest of us don’t.  They have techniques and tips and tricks that make what could be a regular meal in the hands of you or I, into something fantastic.  But to do this, they take time and care.  They do the little “extra” things. In the case of this soup, it’s smoking the tomatoes and making not one but two delicious garnishes for the soup.

You could skip these steps and make the soup without them and it would be a perfectly respectable, albeit a little bland tomato soup.  Or you could put your chef’s hat on for the day and make it like this …

Smoked Tomato Soup with Roasted Red Peppers

(serves 2-3)



4 Roma Tomatoes  (smoked)

4 Red Peppers  (roasted)

1/2 onion diced

2 jalapeno peppers (one smoked, one raw)

1 Tbsp. Honey



handful of cilantro

1/2 cup whipping cream

2 Tbsps Sour Cream

1/2 Lime

1 Tortilla

Chipotle Powder

Make sure your tomatoes are ripe but not mushy

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Make sure your red peppers are the same

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Jalapeno peppers should be firm and dark green.  It’s impossible to judge the heat of them … some are hot, some are hotter.

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1.  Roast peppers on gas stove or BBQ until blackened

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2.  Smoke tomatoes and 1 jalapeno pepper until they start to darken.  30 minutes or so depending on the temperature of the smoker.  This jalapeno pepper?  Wayyy overdone.  Just so ya know.  If you don’t own a smoker, you can smoke your tomatoes on a regular BBQ.  Just add some soaked wood chips to your BBQ.

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3.  Meanwhile, sweat the onions in 1 Tbsp. of butter.  (cook them at a very low temperature with the lid on for 10-15 minutes)

4.  Add 1/2 minced jalapeno pepper  and 1/2 minced smoked jalapeno pepper to onions.

5.  Add roasted peppers and smoked tomatoes to onions and jalapenos in pan. (remove skin from peppers and tomatoes)

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6.  Add enough water to cover the ingredients.  About 3 cups.

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7.  Cover and simmer 1/2 an hour.  The longer you cook the soup, the less heat the jalapeno peppers will have.

8.  Remove some liquid from your soup then blend with regular or immersion blender.

9.  Add reserved liquid of soup is too thick.

For Garnish

Tortilla Crisps

1.  Cut tortilla into thin strips.  I use a pizza cutter.

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2.  Deep fry in oil for a minute or so.  Dust with Chipotle Powder.

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Cilantro Whipped Cream Topping

1.  Whip 1/2 cup of whipping cream.

2.  Add as much chopped cilantro as you like to the whipped cream.  I only like a small amount.  A tablespoon or so.

Whipped Cream with Cilantro

3.  Add 2 Tablespoons of sour cream to mixture.

4.  Squeeze in a juice of half a lime (scant).

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5.  Stir mixture and fill piping bag, plastic bag with a hole cut in the corner or plastic bottle with cream mixture.

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6.  Fill bowls with soup, top with a dollop of the  cream mixture or pipe a design on the surface and add a sprinkle of tortilla crisps.

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Enjoy with a chilled glass of mashed potatoes.

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  1. Jackie H says:

    Your story for your soup made me laugh, I even remember eating at Ponderosa. My mother didn’t like my sister and I to order drinks either. If we were allowed, we usually had to share one large glass. My mother believed we would fill up on the drink before the food came. I wanted to pass along a hint for the hot peppers. My husband and I can salsa every year and we found out if you have a bowl with about a litre of water and 2tsp bleach when your are done cutting, soak your hand for a little while in the water and the pepper oils will turn to salt.

  2. Jen says:

    Norm and Betty sound a lot like Bill and Susan. From the day I got married, I now make a point of always ordering a drink. Liberated!

    Soup looks fabulous, though after all that work, I wonder if I could stand to see it eaten and disappear.

    • Karen says:

      Jen – Hah! It’s really not that much work. Just more work than regular soup. I smoke the tomatoes and roast the peppers the day before so it doesn’t seem like that much work. :) ~ karen

  3. Deb says:

    I’m reading comments from everyone and it’s not just a Canadian mom thing regarding no drinks with meals. I thought it was just MY family (and we lived in Southern California…Navy family…which might explain it). We got milk after dinner because if we had milk with dinner, we’d fill up on the milk. This made it especially difficult for me because that was the only way I could get the peas down…spoonful of peas, swig of milk, don’t chew, swallow everything at once. To this day, I never even think to serve drinks with meals.

  4. Del says:

    My mother never put liquid on the dinner table except for my grandfather, who had a giant cup of tea (2) with each meal. Consequently, I still eat without the need to guzzle. Husband on the other hand has to have something to wash it all down. Doesn’t matter what it is, just so long as he’s not going to choke on my cooking (does this say something?). But you would think after 38 years of marriage the ‘drinking lecture’ could be put to rest. ‘You should drink with food, it’s not good to consume without liquid, one day… etc. etc. My parents didn’t drink with a meal either, I guess it’s in the genes. Maybe we’re just extra sloshy on the inside and everything slides down. There is room here, for exploration and discovery. Husband has often referred to the possibility of me being extra terrestrial….

    • Karen says:

      Del – I’ve noticed a trend here in the comments. It seems to be that the women didn’t get beverages while the men did. I have no idea what this means, but if any of us are forced into any sort of hostage situation, I think the women will fare better. ~ karen

  5. Evalyn says:

    Wow, the memories. I didn’t get to have a whole hamburger to myself till I went to college. I do remember what a treat it was to get to eat a meal at a restaurant, even if I did have to share my food. Water was the only allowed beverage EXCEPT a milk shake, which we shared. It was a big deal to get the bit left in the original tumbler and not have to use a glass. Buying seprate lunches for five kids was more than my parent’s budget would allow. I still feel a little guilty when I order a drink with my meal.

  6. Lindsay says:


    I think you are a soup psychic – I was very much in need of a roasted red pepper soup recipe as well! You rock my socks off.


  7. Denise Leavens says:

    Oh, and do you have a beverage with this soup, or is the liquid of the soup enough?

  8. Denise Leavens says:

    What does your fella think of this meal?

    • Karen says:

      Denise – The fella’s not a huge fan of tomato soup. As I said, neither am I, but to me this doesn’t taste like tomato soup. More like a smoky soup with red peppers. He’ll eat it, but doesn’t go nuts over wanting seconds, LOL. And the soup isn’t the whole meal. When we had it last week, we had it with a big grilled cheese made with real cheddar cheese on slices of whole grain bread I bought at the farmer’s market. Plus salad. :) ~ k

  9. Kimberley says:

    Hi Karen,
    I’ve written before how much I love your blog. You are such a great refreshing change from some other blogs. The soup recipe sounds wonderful. On another note re: your photoshop classes, your pics were great without your classes. One thing I love is that you don’t overdue the pictures, I mean how many times can you look at the same picture 95 different times?? Your sense of humor and writing skills are enhanced by your photos, not overwhelmed. Thanks again, you keep so many people laughing and informed sharing your life.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Kimberley! I don’t plan on going crazy with the Photoshopping. I just need it for the regular stuff like fixing the exposure, toning down or up colours and cropping and stuff like that. The other thing I’m looking forward to doing with it is improving the layout of my photos. Creating drop shadows on them or just nicer layouts. One step at a time. Or perhaps stumble. ~ karen

  10. Christina says:

    Soup with crackers = making money.
    I love it.
    I will never again turn down extra sauce packets from the Chinese takeout.
    Thanks for the recipe and a new way to make tortilla chips.

    • Karen says:

      Christina – I haven’t tried it yet, but I was told these little tortilla sticks are also really good in salad! And I bet they are! ~ karen

  11. Kaete says:

    Growing up I was never allowed anything to drink with meals. And our meals, like another poster above, usually consisted of grossly overcooked pork chops. And carrots. Soggy, mushy carrots that floated around the plate in carrot-can-juice.
    Because of this (and probably a lot of other reasons too), my liquid-loving fiancee thinks my family is totally crazy.
    Well, now I can say HA to him! We may still be totally bananas, but it’s good to know I wasn’t the only one subjected to a strict diet of dry goods and mashed potatoes.
    Ironically, fla-vor-ice (which is basically just diabetic coma inducing sugar water) was always available in the house as an alternative to water.

  12. Emily @ NewlyWife says:

    That’s too funny. I’m the same way now, especially considering how big the mark-up on soda is. Yikes! This soup looks absolutely delicious, thanks for sharing!

  13. Amy in StL says:

    My mom said that their dad didn’t allow them to drink during meals because he thought it interfered with digestion. (This was in the 1930’s so water would have been the only choice for a family of 8) She still doesn’t drink during meals.

    BTW, he drank 3 glasses of water as hot as he could stand it first thing in the morning. No idea what that did, other than give his grandkids a great story to tell.

  14. sera says:

    We didn’t have much but I at least got some water. Although I don’t remember ever going to restaurants with my single mom unless it involved a man (that sounds wrong, but it wasn’t random or very often). Anyway, do you have any advise on smoking things in a gas grill? I love that I got a free gas grill from my grandma but we no longer get to enjoy that good ol’ carcinogenic charcoal flavor. mmm, delish!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sera – We only got the smoker in December, so I’ve been smoking things on a gas grill for a long time. It can be done, but it’s a quite difficult. To smoke things like ribs or brisket properly you need to do it at a very low temperature. Like between 235 and 250. Plus the meat has to be cooked indirectly, which means there can’t be actual flame underneath it. So if your BBQ has 3 burners, light only the one on the far left and put your meat on the far right of the grill. Soak some wood chips (as many as up can pick up in 2 hands) and then either wrap them in tin foil or put them in a smoker box. Make sure you perforate the tinfoil or leave the ends open so the smoke can escape. Get the grill smoking before you put the meat on. As soon as your chips are smoking and your grill is at 250 you can put your food on. Don’t put it on before your chips are smoking or the meat will seal up and not allow the smoke to be introduced as easily. Wow. Um …. maybe I should just write a post on this, LOL. ~ karen

      • sera says:

        Wow! Awesome! You should definitely write a post on this. I’m assuming that smoked tomatoes will take a lot less time, because I know you can’t smoke a loin in half an hour. I’m excited to try this!

      • SK Farm Girl says:

        Yes! That would be a wonderful idead; how to smoke food on a good ol’ regular BBQ! BTW – brussel sprouts lightly drizzled with EVOO and fresh cracker pepper and a tad of sea salt roasted until nicely blacked are OMG, freakin’ delicious!! You gotta try them sista, you will fall in loved with those cute little cabages – trust me!

      • Karen says:

        Are you kidding me? Tell me you’re kidding me.

      • Sherry says:

        Okay – thank you – research done – it does sound kind of hard for a bowl of soup, but I’ll try it… have to use the BBQ for something… thanks!

      • Karen says:

        Sherry – It’s definitely not one of my simpler recipes. But it does taste restaurant quality, especially if you make the tortilla chips for the top. ~ karen

  15. Holly says:

    Karen these photos are beautiful! I’ve been convinced to make this soup just because of how beautiful it looks in the pictures!

  16. Design Love says:

    Lmao…..I think your mother is related to my mother or it’s a Canadian mother thing!

    The soup looks delish btw…..

    still laughing!


  17. Tess says:

    Growing up, we were not permitted to drink with meals. After we cleaned our plates, we were rewarded with 1 glass of milk. This was never a problem, unless dinner included overcooked and dried up pork chops!

  18. Stephanie says:

    Truly beautiful! What a great-looking bowl of soup… I always get water at restaurants. And then drink my husband’s iced tea. My sister works in a restaurant…it drives her crazy when people order water with a lemon wedge.

  19. Kristen says:

    I am your mother. Not really…I just don’t allow myself or my boyfriend to buy drinks at a restaurant. $4 for a soda? $8 for a beer? $10 for a glass of wine?! I could buy a whole BOTTLE of wine for $10. Poor dehydrated boyfriend…

  20. Jillian says:

    Karen, My life is extremely busy. Just bought a new house, have (had) a list of projects required plus “needing” to garden after 11 years of not being able to. Plus, I’m a single mom with 3 teen girls and am self employed. Right now I barely have time to work on my biz (good thing I have high paying clients). Anyway, I am sharing this with you to say…I take time (when I can) to read your blog in the morning before I get going. YOU are a not only an inspiration and bright light, you are hilarious!!! Better than a cup of coffee (well, almost). Thank you for being you.
    BTW, my daughter and I picked our first eggplant from our garden and I have to say it is beautiful and rude! It is Siamese so it looks like 2 boobs, one bigger than the other. I guess a tribute to all the women who are blessed that way and even more of a tribute if they are purple! lol Continue to spread your joy…

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Jillian – That’s a very high compliment indeed! I hear ya on the cup of coffee. I love coffee with all my heart. :) Thanks again for taking the time to comment and congrats on your pornographic eggplant. ~ karen

  21. marilyn says:

    oh karen i laughed so hard at the reference to the drinks in the restaurant. there were 9 of us so it was because we were poor. we drank water and shared meals.and at home we were never allowed to drink during our meal. if you ate everything then you could have a glass of milk, milk that was half powdered and half 2% that is. but i wouldn’t trade any of it…

    • Petrel says:

      There were six of us kids and we got water at meals(at restaurants too)–and milk was straight powdered (with water mixed in, of course).
      But I agree with Marilyn, I wouldn’t change it. :)

    • Sherry says:

      Yup no water for us… thanks for the Ponderosa reminder… I think at Ponderosa you had to pay up front for the glass, and it was refillable and the water was one of those little side job little tiny levers that you can never find… so basically you purchased a glass…. they did not trust that you would just take water… loved the “drinking mashed potatoes” visual… RIP Ponderosa!!!
      But I may in fact try this soup even though the thought of getting ‘wood chips’ to smoke??? I know I’m new to the planet… this may take some research. But now I know what you mean by roasted red peppers… I will get two recipes out of the effort :)
      I’m on my way from misery to happiness today!!!!

  22. Amy says:

    You read my mind – I have been searching for a roasted red pepper soup to try!

  23. Ryan says:

    Didn’t water come free at your restaurants?

  24. Valerie says:

    Suggestion: Wear plastic gloves (the disposable type) when you mince the jalapeno peppers – some get burnt hands otherwise. If you forget to do this and your hands are burning after handling this type of pepper give them a “wash” with milk.

    • Karen says:

      Valerie – I’ve heard milk helps. I know water doesn’t because it’s the oil in the pepper that burns you and water doesn’t wash away oil. I’ve had really great success recently with rubbing alcohol! Works almost immediately! ~ karen

  25. Sara says:

    Gorgeous soup! Do you have to pay for glasses of water at restaurants in Canada? I noticed while traveling in Banff that public drinking fountains were rare, if they occurred at all. I felt like I was a passenger on the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I was in the land of abundant beautiful water, and yet there was none to drink. The only thing missing was the albatross.

    • Karen says:

      Sara – LOL. No, you don’t have to pay for glasses of water here. Not unless you get a bottle of water like San Pellegrino or whatever. Our town has a drinking fountain, but you’re right. They’re rarer and rarer now that I think about it. ~ karen

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