One of my all time favorite things in the world is tomato basil soup. I am frankly a bit obsessed with it and I generally order it at any restaurant where I find it on the menu. It MUST be of the creamy variety. I started making this myself and have come to the point of having my own recipe. I can whip this soup up in a different way every time, depending on what is hiding in my pantry when the hankering starts. This is what I generally do:
Saute three or even four chopped shallots and a couple of chopped garlic cloves in a dutch oven with half a stick of butter. When the shallots are clear and starting to brown, mix in one 6 oz can of tomato paste. Follow that with two cups of chicken stock, one can of tomato soup and one large 28 oz can of whole tomatoes. I then use my immersion blender to make it smooth. I add a bit of brown sugar (probably a couple of teaspoons) and lots of pepper. Season with salt, dried basil (a good bit!), oregano, rosemary and a smidgen of cayenne pepper. Then stir in one pint of heavy cream and let simmer for about 30 minutes. This stuff is to die for and so easy!! Be easy with that cayenne pepper...it gets spicier as it simmers and if you have kiddos eating it, you need to be careful. I made it last night and got it a bit too heavy on the spicy, although when I tasted it as I was adding the pepper, it was not nearly as hot as it turned out. So make a note! You could easily skip it, but I like the little undercurrent of heat.
This recipe gets a lot of modifications when I make it. I will use two 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes instead of whole if that is what I have at the time. Another trick that is awesome is to chop up two slices of standard wheat sandwich bread and put them in before you puree. If you do this, you must let the bread simmer for about 10 minutes or so before you puree so that the bread begins to break down. This trick is surprisingly awesome and makes for a much thicker soup, although you would never guess there was bread in there! I also tend to go with three cups of stock instead of two if I am adding the bread. It is delish and really just changes the consistency and not the taste. It is a good trick if you are in the mood for thicker soup. I also use a whole onion frequently if I don't have shallots on hand. I think the shallots are the best, but the onion also makes for great soup. I also love to use fresh basil if I have some...it makes for the BEST taste. However, there are lots of times when I want the soup but don't feel like going out for basil and the dried still makes for great soup. I serve it up with my garlic bread toast sticks and it is a quick and easy meal.
It works especially well for the nights that you abandon your husband and son to go watch "The Bachelor" with your girlfriends. ;-)