1 cup finely chopped carrots
2-3 stalks celery (1 cup), finely chopped (OR 2 Tbsp dried celery flakes)
1/2 - 1 cup white onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lb (6 cups) tomatoes, chopped, with seeds (about 11 Romas)
1 can low sodium diced tomatoes, reserved till later
1 whole red bell pepper plus 1/4 of another red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, OR 2 Tbsp dried basil
dried Italian seasoning, sprinkled plentifully
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt (OR to taste)
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Chop all vegetables. Place the fresh tomatoes and red bell pepper on cookie sheet. Drizzle 1 Tbsp olive oil evenly over the tomatoes and red bell peppers. Sprinkle heavily with Italian seasoning, and lightly sprinkle some ground black pepper and salt. Roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes, or until veggies tender and edges lightly browned.While red bell peppers and tomatoes are roasting in the oven, saute onions, carrots, and celery at medium high heat, till slightly tender, stirring occasionally.
Transfer all vegetables to a food processor. Add the can of diced tomatoes to the processor. Depending on your desires, process until the texture is either mostly smooth, semi-smooth, or still fairly chunky. (We like it semi-smooth for texture). Return processed vegetables to a large pot.
Turn the heat onto to medium low to heat the soup in the pot. Add the basil (fresh or dried) as well as the balsamic vinegar. If soup to thick, add a little water. Simmer till ready to eat!