Tomato Basil Soup with Grilled Cheese
The sun is out, the weather is warming, Spring is here! All I can think of now is, "I hope we can save enough money to get the air conditioner installed in the house before it gets too hot". My A/C just went out in my car this week too and they quoted me $998! House? Car? House? Car? I just hope Mother Nature gives me another week or two of beautiful 72 degree temperatures, so that we can mill through our options a little longer. But one way or another, looking to the future, it's going to be HOT!
I am pretty lucky that my local grocery store has somewhat above average products and a great deli section. They have some great prepackaged soups that have a constant home in my refrigerator during the Fall and Winter. But every once in a while, I love to make soup from scratch. This Tomato Basil soup is one that I love to serve with a great grilled cheese sandwich on a cold rainy day. I usually go for canned tomatoes (San Marzano only), but I have done a similar recipe with roasted fresh tomatoes that I will break out of the vault during the upcoming tomato season.
During Christmas of 2011, I thought of the perfect gift for my man, Jamie, who loves soup and sandwich meals even more than I do. It was a panini press. I knew he'd love it, and it was a kitchen gadget he could get some use out of. Well, we ended up doing a quasi-reverse Gift of the Magi thing. He got me an awesome blender that has a heating feature, so that you can cook the soup right in the blender! It was meant to be Soup + Sandwich, Jamie + Amanda, they both equal LOVE!
Another BIG reason for tonight's dinner menu is the fact that I just baked my first loaf of bread yesterday! It was a great success, so I thought my Rosemary Garlic Bread would make a great provolone grilled cheese sandwich to dip into a hot, tomatoey soup. I also like to serve this soup with crusty, garlicky croutons on top with a sprinkle of Parmesan or Romano. I never have any leftovers of this soup each time I've made it but I've always wanted to try this recipe, keeping it a little chunkier and then baking some eggs in it! Yum!
Now, I don't normally put carrots into my tomato soup. I had some carrots left over from my Thai Yellow Curry, and I thought that they would add a little sweetness to the soup. I was right. It was a great combination! If you omit the carrots, you may want to add a teaspoon of sugar to the soup to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. If also heard that adding soda reduces the acidity, but I have yet to try it.
Tomato Basil SoupServes about 4
1 28oz can of San Marzano peeled, whole tomatoes
1/2 sweet yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 carrots, peeled, roughly chopped
4-5 sprigs of basil
3 basil leaves chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp red wine
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/3 cup sour cream
salt and pepper
red pepper flake, optional
Preheat olive oil in a large pot over med-high heat. Add onions and stir until they begin to soften. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste, carrots, red pepper flake, sprigs of basil salt and pepper. Stir all ingredients and cook for 3 minutes. When the tomato paste is very fragrant deglaze the pan with a splash of red wine. Add the tomatoes, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add stock and simmer, covered for 30 minutes. (The time you spend here at this step, is very flexible. Just be sure to cook it long enough so that the carrots are tender.)
Use an immersion blender or transfer the soup to a blender and puree until you've reached your desired consistency. I like mine blended pretty well, but with some texture remaining. Return blended soup to cooking pot and add the sour cream and chopped fresh basil.
Serve with a sprinkle of cheese, basil, croutons, crusty bread, grilled cheese sandwich, or just a spoon.