SOUP - Tomato Soup (Rome on the Range by Tara Dreger)
- 8 large plum or Roma tomatoes (about 2 lbs/907g)
- 2 large red bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp each minced fresh thyme and fresh rosemary (or 2 tsp dried italian seasoning)
- 2 cups beef broth, divided
- 1 cup V8 juice
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, or 2 tsp dried
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 12 oz (340g) extra-lean ground beef
- 1/4 cup minced shallots or onions
- 1/4 cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 black pepper
Preheat over to 450 degrees F. Coarsely chop tomatoes and combine with red peppers, onion, garlic, olive oil, thyme, and rosemary in a very large roasting pan or on a very large rimmed baking sheet. It's best if vegetables are in a single layer.
Place roasting pan in oven on middle rack and roast vegetables for 15 minutes. Remove vegetables from oven and give them a quick stir. Return pan to oven on middle rack and turn on the broiler. Broil vegetables for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare meatballs. Combine all meatball ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Using your hand works best! Form 48 mini meatballs using 1 tsp or so of meat mixture per ball. Set aside.
Remove vegetables from oven. Transfer half the vegetables to a blender or food processor, along with 1 cup beef broth, and puree until smooth. Transfer pureed vegetables to a large soup pot. Chop remaining vegetables into bite-sized pieces (if any tomato or pepper skins come loose, discard them) and add to pot, along with remaining beef broth, V8 juice, basil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring soup to a boil. Add meatballs. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through. Taste soup and add more salt and pepper, if desired.