Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

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Soup! A dish that most people crave when it is chilly out or when we feel under the weather. I love making (and eating) soup(s). To me soups are like casseroles but liquid…a liquid casserole. Gross right? Ha! Well think about it, soups/casseroles are generally anything and everything you can pull together to qualify as a meal. I do not know the history of soups/casseroles but if I had to guess they were created because of lack of resources and money. Why waste food when you can put them together and make another “new” meal?

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There were definitely times in my childhood that my parents had to do this. Heck! There are times that I do this to help with our finances and fridge space. Growing up my mama did the best she could to pass off soups and casseroles as a “delicious meal” for her picky eaters. Some were great! Others not so much! Like the time she tried to make a turkey soup after thanksgiving. Yuck! We still to this day do not know what went wrong with that concoction but there was not one of us that enjoyed that meal. One meal that was always a crowd pleaser for our family was my mama’s tomato soup and hot ham and cheese sandwiches. She always made this meal growing up, especially on a cold winter day. Now that I have my own family, I understand the struggle my mother had when it came to finding meals everyone enjoyed and would not break the bank. Not to mention the ever looming “what’s for dinner” lurking in my head from day in and day out trying to meal plan.

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So when my husband came home from work the other day and said he was “craving tomato basil soup” I jumped on that idea quickly. I decided that since my husband has been working long hours I would make it for the next night. This soup would be one from the heart – from scratch. After researching several different recipes I wrote out a grocery list and made my way to the store with my sons in tow. When we returned home I immediately began to make our soup. Like previously mentioned I looked at various recipes online and then just kind of winged the recipe, so please bare with me on the measurements. The same night I made this dish, my sister-in-law came over for the night. She could not believe that I made this soup from scratch. The soup was quite simple to make and according to my sister-in-law “tasted better than La Madeline’s”. My husband even thought it was scrumptious! It was definitely a meal to warm the bones and soul. I poured some into a mason jar and shared it with my parents Sunday after church. They both messaged me saying how great it was! Talk about a confidence boost! Keep reading for a detailed explanation of my recipe or do what everyone else in the real world does and scroll just to what you need and how to make it. Oh, is that just me? Ha! I didn’t think so! If you have read until here- thanks!

Directions

To start preheat oven to 400 degrees. I would highly recommend baking your tomatoes on a pan with parchment paper. I did not and the juices caramelized on my pan making for a harder clean up. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Rinse your 3 pounds of tomatoes along with your one red bell pepper and slice them lengthwise.

Once rinsed and sliced place on the parchment covered baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss. I actually used my hands to mix them all together while they were on the pan. It was somewhat messy but got the job done!

Place the pan in the preheated oven allowing to roast for 45 minutes. In the mean time chop your onion and mince your garlic. Take a large dutch oven add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Begin to melt over a medium heat adding your chopped onion, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and pinch of salt. I did just a shake or two of the red pepper flakes, which would probably be equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon. Obviously if you would want a little more heat you should add more. Saute for roughly 10 minutes or until your onions are translucent and aromatic.

Notice the charred parts on the pepper and some of the tomatoes pictured above? It is fine! To me it just added another layer of flavor. If they were all extremely charred, also known as burned, I would think it would alter the flavor of your soup and would not recommend continuing on with this batch.

Next, you need to add literally everything into the dutch oven except for the heavy whipping cream. Allow everything to simmer together for about 40 minutes with the lid off.

I must confess for this next step I finally broke down and bought an immersion blender and it is AMAZING! Yes you can totally ladle the soup into a blender or food processor to puree into a smooth soup but it can get messy. The immersion blender I bought is so convenient and easy to use. The one I have did not come with the various attachments but did come with a cup that is fun to use if you want to make a quick shake. Random yet helpful I am sure.

Blend the contents into a smooth puree, then stir in the heavy cream. Should you not want the soup to be creamy you can totally leave out the heavy cream and enjoy the soup that way. My husband said he wanted his to be creamy so I added the cream. Plus I feel that the cream helps cut some of the acidity of the tomatoes.

At this point your soup is finished and should be tasted to make sure you do not need to add a tad more salt. Mine did need a dash more to help bring out some of the other flavors. Get your bowl and spoon ready and enjoy this delicious homemade soup. I garnished ours with a Parmesan cheese crisp and some toasted french bread croutons. Keep reading if you want to know how I made those or scroll to get the recipe… you know the drill.

Quick and easy garnish:

These two were both super delicious and are easy to make. Preheat oven to 350. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese into little piles on a baking sheet. I found the french bread slices on sale in the bakery section of the grocery store for $.79. Chances are they were marked down because they were getting stale but I didn’t mind because I was just going to pop them in the oven to crisp them up. I placed the bread slices on the other half of the baking sheet opposite of the cheese piles. To help give the croutons a little more life, I took some olive oil, crushed garlic, and Parmesan cheese mixing in a small bowl. I then drizzled and brushed it all on all of the tops of the bread slices. You then want to place the pan in the oven and watched carefully for the cheese to melt and reach a shade of a nice golden brown. Once you are satisfied with the color, carefully pull the pan from the oven and allow to cool off a tad. Then scrap from pan and top your warm soup.

I mentioned previously about my hot ham and cheese sandwiches but that will have to be a future entry. Like always I hope this dish brings you warmth, happiness, and a full belly! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs of Roma (plum) tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil (4 cups packed – give or take)
  • 1 Large Red Bell Pepper
  • Olive oil 1/4 c and 2 tbsp
  • ~ 2 cups chopped Yellow Onion
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ~1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 28 oz whole plum tomatoes with juice
  • 1 tsp of Fresh Thyme (1/2 tsp dried)
  • ~ 4 cups Chicken Stock
  • ~ 8 oz Heavy Whipping Cream
  • Salt, pepper, and garlic powder (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Wash and slice tomatoes and red bell pepper length wise. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil (~1/4 c) and add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Toss with hands.
  3. Place in oven and roast for 45 minutes.
  4. Grab large dutch oven or large stock pot. Add 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of olive oil to pot over medium heat.
  5. Add chopped onion, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Saute in butter oil mixture until onions are translucent and fragrant.
  6. Add canned tomatoes (juice and all), roasted tomatoes and red bell pepper, basil, thyme, chicken stock, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Simmer for roughly 40 minutes (lid off).
  7. Carefully blend ingredients into a smooth consistence. Add heavy cream and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Garnish and maybe share.

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