Friday, January 24, 2014

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

If you know me, you know I run cold--like, cold (which is not to say that I run in the cold--burr). A house set at 67 will leave me goose-bumped. Anything less and I shiver. I've learned to take sweaters to restaurants even in the summer (granny style). I usually wear two sweaters at my house in the winter. And let's not even talk about how cold grocery stores are because my lips might turn blue. Lucky for me we have a wood-burning stove that keeps at least part of our house deliciously warm. And lucky for me I like soup.

There are a few recipes for tomato soup on this blog. That simple little soup is my favorite. So I've got a roasted tomato soup--perfect for when you've got too many garden tomatoes or when you wind up with some blah tomatoes from the store (roasting brings them back to life). I've got a 7-minute pantry-friendly tomato soup. And I've got my "best" tomato soup--a tomato soup I consider to be of restaurant quality--fresh herbs, a little smoky, delicious. And today I've got another best soup. What?! You can't do that, right. Whatever. It's my blog. I can and I will. The fact is that today's soup is just as good and easier to prepare. It's a little different. It's not as bacon-smoky. Instead, it's creamy from something as basic and whole foody as cream cheese. It's got a nice dose of basil. And mine came out just a bit tangy from some lemon juice that was with my home canned tomatoes. That tanginess really amped it up for me. There's something about hot and tangy that just beats the cold like nothing in this world. Also, let me please emphasize that this soup is super easy to make. I hate to compare the two, or rather I hate to pick favorites on my own blog. They're like two slightly different, but still very attractive sisters. But let me say that today's soup--well, if the cold weather keeps up, I just might start taking baths in it.  

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
adapted from The 36th Avenue (and, yes, I totally un-skinnied this recipe)
serves 6-8
Prep time:
Cook time: 30 minutes
Cost: $4.85
onion: .15, butter: .06, tomatoes: 3.00, cream cheese: 1.00, basil: .50, other stuff: .14

Note: Instead of water and bouillon, you can use chicken broth--homemade or otherwise.

1 small onion, finely chopped (like it's minced almost)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp butter
3 14-oz cans Italian-style diced tomatoes (or some home-canned tomatoes with lemon)
2 c water
2 tsp chicken bouillon granules (or cubes)
8 oz cream cheese
2 Tbsp pesto (or 1/4-1/2 C chopped fresh basil)
squeeze of lemon, optional

Chop up that onion. Chop it good (if you've got a decent knife, this adds about a minute of prep time and saves about 5 minutes of cook time).

Melt butter in a large pan. Add onion and cook for several minutes or until it begins to soften. Add garlic. Cook another minute, stirring.

Add tomatoes (with juices). Add water/bouillon. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

When it's about done, add the basil (or pesto).

Put your cube of cream cheese in a blender and add 1 C of hot soup. Blend (and be careful--you don't want it to burst out of your blender and burn you).

At this point, you can just add that creamy puree to your chunky soup and have a chunky soup. Or you can puree the rest of the soup, which is what I did because my family likes creamy. I had to do it in two batches. And I must warn you when blending hot liquids--be careful. Most blenders have a little plastic thingy at the top that you can remove. Remove that--this allows the steam to escape. If the steam stays bottled up, it sometimes makes your lid pop off and sprays super hot soup all over your face, arms, and kitchen. This is bad. So remove the plastic thing if you can. Then put a dish towel over the top of the blender and blend.

Re-warm if necessary. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper if necessary. If you'd like this tangy (and, oh, I do) add a couple good strong squeezes of lemon.


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