The moment the thermometer drops below 50 degrees, I practically run to my recipe box and aim straight for the soups. On a cold day, there’s nothing better than filling your belly with some warm lovin’. My immediate favorite has to be this Cream of Tomato Basil soup. When a dear friend in Florida invited us over for “tomato soup” I almost graciously opted out due to visions of a red blob sliding from a can, whisked with some milk and served with stale saltine crackers.
Never in my wildest culinary dreams did I imagine a soup so ethereal and flavorful with a surprising crispness to it. I had to have the recipe and was prepared to pay handsomely for it. To my amazement, Heather handed it over…for free!
It would be too easy to selfishly hoard this recipe all to myself, but there’s so much love in it that just begs to be passed along and shared in your kitchen, around your dinner table, with your friends and loved ones.
(Forewarning: this soup is a little time-consuming, but oh-so-worth it!)
Cream of Tomato Basil Soup
2 (28 oz) cans of whole tomatoes (reserve juice)
2 TB brown sugar
4 TB butter
1 small onion chopped
2 TB tomato past
2-3 TB flour
2 (15 oz) cans or one carton of chicken stock/broth
2 fresh red peppers roasted*
1 cup prepared pesto
1 1/2 cups half and half (low fat or fat free substitutes fine)
*Note: to roast peppers, cut them in half, clean out the seeds, and place them skin side up on a broiler pan. Broil them for about 20-25 minutes or until you notice the majority of the skin turning black. Don’t be alarmed, they’re not burned! Remove from oven and let cool. When cool enough to handle, peel off the black skins, and cut in large chunks. DO NOT skip the red peppers, they’re the secret ingredient!
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil. Squeeze the seeds out of tomatoes and discard. Arrange the tomatoes on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with brown sugar. Bake until liquid is evaporated and tomatoes caramelize (about 30 min).
Heat butter, onion, and tomato paste in large pot. Saute until onions soften. Add flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually add chicken stock and reserved tomato juice. Bring to a boil. Add tomatoes and peppers and puree until smooth with an immersion blender, or remove from pot in small batches and puree in a food processor or blender. Return to pot, simmer 15 minutes. Five minutes before serving, add pesto and half and half.
The roasted red peppers add a delicious crisp texture to the soup and will have people begging for the recipe. It’s pretty much a gimme you’ll never go back to canned tomato soup again!