Preheat the oven to 180ºC. To prepare the bread, cut the French bread stick across in half so that it will fit into the oven. Cut each half into 3.5 cm thick slices, leaving the slices attached at the base. Hold the slices apart and spread each one thinly with pesto, then press them back together. Wrap the bread in foil and set aside.
Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and fry gently for 5 minutes or until softened but not browned. Stir in the red capsicums and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the stock and remove from the heat.
Place the bread in the oven to heat for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, purée the soup in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pan and stir in the tomato purée, thyme, cinnamon and sugar. Heat the soup gently without allowing it to boil.
Ladle the soup into warm bowls and top each portion with a tablespoon of yogurt and season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with basil, then serve with the hot pesto bread.
Some more ideas…
For a spicy version, add 1 deseeded and finely chopped fresh red chilli with the onion, or a dash of Tabasco or other chilli sauce with the final seasoning. * Tomato and carrot soup Use 700 g finely chopped carrots instead of the red capsicums. After the stock is added, cover the pan and simmer the carrots for 10 minutes or until they are tender. Finish as in the main recipe, omitting the sugar. * Add 500 g coarsely chopped leeks, white part only, and 4 sliced celery stalks with the onion instead of the red capsicums. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the leeks are softened before adding the stock. Purée the soup and finish as in the main recipe, omitting the sugar.
Red capsicums are an excellent source of vitamin C – weight for weight they contain more than twice as much vitamin C as oranges. They also provide good amounts of carotenoids and bioflavonoids – both anti-oxidants that help to protect against heart disease and cancer.