If you are reading this from anywhere near my 'neck of the woods', you've been a little cold the last few days.
It's perfect soup weather.
A sweet friend of mine (Hi Gayla!) was looking for a recipe for Tomato-Basil soup, and I decided to help her out by attempting to come up with an acceptable one. For years I've wanted to try to replicate the version served at Panera, and this was my chance to kill two birds with one stone.
And before I get terribly wordy and go chasing all kind of details that you may not care anything about, let me say that the condensed recipe is at the end of the post.
I started with fresh tomatoes (well, as fresh as one can get in January). I'm sure the flavor would be much more intense when good tomatoes were in season, but unfortunately I don't crave hot soup a lot in the summer.
I cut 8 Roma tomatoes in half and put them on a baking sheet with olive oil. After I took this picture I decided to add the onion and the garlic to the mix and roast it as well. The oven was pretty hot - 450, and I left the veggies in for about 40 minutes.
Note: I forgot to put the salt, pepper, and red pepper on the veggies before I roasted them and just threw them in later, but I highly recommend that you do it the way I suggest in the recipe.
Basically, don't be me.
You may need to pour off some liquid during the roasting process, just make sure to save it all. The longer you roast the veggies, the more intense the flavor and the more the natural sugars will develop to really give your soup a 'long-cooked' taste.
Put the whole mix (including all the olive oil and juice) into the food processor and blend until almost smooth. You can do this in a blender as well, but my blender is broken, and so far I have been unsuccessful in convincing The Chief that he needs to buy me a Vitamix.
But he does.
And I would certainly appreciate any help moving that whole thing along.
I like a little texture to my soup and left it a little bit chunky.
Rustic, I like to call it.
Rustic is always a great excuse for not having something perfect.
For example, several days last week my hairstyle was 'rustic'.
It's about art and personal expression.
And that's all I have to say about that.
Here's what I had when I processed the veggies along with the Better than Bouillon.
Dump all of this into a Dutch oven along with the chicken broth.
Next, process the canned tomatoes along with the sugar in the food processor and pour this mixture into the Dutch oven along with everything else.
You'll notice that the canned tomatoes are a much brighter red. This is because canned veggies (and frozen) are usually picked when they are ripe and purty...
Cook for a bit and then throw in the basil.
You must use fresh basil - not dried.
It won't bother me at all if you hereafter refer to me as the Basil Police.
I kind of like the authority it implies.
Please Note! When the above photo was taken I had not yet added the cream. When The Chief got home from work I asked him to taste test it, and he thought it needed a little "somethin-somethin" so I tried adding the cream and we both thought it was the perfect addition.
Just make sure that when you add the cream it is either OFF the heat source, or on very, very low heat as you don't want the cream to separate.
And I'm not whining or anything, but I really think it would have been even better if it had been Vitamix'ed a little while. But I suppose I shall live with it the way it is.
8 Roma tomatoes
½ large, yellow onion
4-6 cloves garlic
1 t. salt
½ t. pepper
¼ t. red pepper flakes
1 t. Better than Bouillon (chicken)
3-4 c. Chicken broth
2 cans (14.5) oz. fire roasted, diced (or whole) tomatoes
2 t. sugar
¼ c. fresh Basil, finely diced
¼ c. heavy cream
1. Preheat oven to 450. Spread a baking sheet with 2 T. olive oil. Halve the tomatoes and cut the onion into large chunks. Place the tomatoes (cut side down) and the onion and garlic (still in the skin) on the baking sheet. Over the top pour 2 more T. olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Place in preheated oven and roast for 30-40 minutes or until the edges of the vegetables are brown and crinkly. (It may be necessary to pour off some liquid while the vegetables are roasting-make sure to save it!)
2. Put the roasted vegetables and the Better than B into the food processor and process until almost smooth. Don't forget to remove the skin from the garlic cloves.
3. Transfer into a Dutch oven and add chicken broth.
4. Process the 2 cans of tomatoes and 2 t. sugar in the food processor until almost smooth. Add to the mixture in the Dutch oven.
5. Cook over med-low heat about 10 minutes until in begins to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook about 15 minutes.
6. Add the basil and simmer about 10 more minutes.
7. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream. Add additional salt to taste.
Note: If you desire a smoother texture, you can process the finished soup again in processor, or for a finer texture, a blender.