Thursday, February 23, 2012

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

My mother-in-law-to -be bravely battles the frigid temperatures of Alaska each year and has been begging me to post about a creamy tomato soup as it is her "comfort" food for cold winters. (Side note: Why is it considered crazy to live through MN winters but "cool" to live in extreme AK winters? ) Any who... tomato soup is a basic staple that everyone should have a recipe for no matter where it is you spend your winter months.

I must admit, I debated back and forth on whether to make a creamy version or make a chunky brothy version. I first found Barefoot Contessa's recipe and used it as a base. I immediately found my vision and decided a classic cream version was where I was headed... but it wouldn't be an ordinary version. I wanted heat, lots of heat and big bold deep flavors.... and I accomplished it.

Now, the only thing I will say about this soup is that to acquire the right texture you must put it in a food processor and let it go... for quite awhile. An emulsion blender won't handle this the way I wanted it to, so keep that in mind. In all honesty, Todd told me that this was the "best soup he had every had" and that was BEFORE I blended it, so for those of you daring... leave it without the cream and food processing for a chunky vegetable tomato soup. (I may post this version later as it was quite good!) 

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
Serves: 10-12

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons good olive oil
This is what the chunky broth like version looked like prior to
being pureed. Todd insisted this, as it was, was a perfect tomato soup.
 I disagreed and kept going..
1 1/2 cups chopped white onions (2 onions)
3 celery stocks, chopped
 2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
2 tablespoon minced garlic (6 cloves)
1 Lb Canned Whole Peeled Tomatoes
2 large jalapenos; chopped (optional)
3 14.5 ounce cans of Red Gold Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic and Oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves,
3 cups chicken stock, or chicken flavored vegetable stock
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2-3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
Parmesan Cheese, for garnish
Julienned basil leaves, for garnish

Directions:
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions, celery, jalapenos, and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken /vegetable stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

Add the cream to the soup and process it in the food processor. (This may take some time.) Then, pour through mesh strainer for that ultimate texture. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves and/or Parmesan cheese.

*Note: Ms. Ina Garten recommends using fresh tomatoes and processing through a food mill to remove the skins and seeds from the base. I don't have a food mill, and I didn't have skin on tomatoes... but I do recommend using a food mill or strainer for this soup if an ultra smooth texture if what you desire. If tomatoes were in season, I definitely would have used fresh but at this time of the year... why bother? Canned are almost better.

This is the final spicy, creamy version...and it was so GOOD!
I served it with a Fontina grilled cheese on 9 grain bread and topped it with Bacon,
Arugula,Tomato, and a dallop of spciy mayo.
That's it! How easy, right?
Enjoy... we are in the final 5 weeks of winter!

Kristen

Source: Barefoot Contessa "Back to Basics" and also found here at foodnetwork.com

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