Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tomato Basil Soup and BLTs

I generally plan the following week's meals over the weekend. This ensures that I have all the correct ingredients for each dish. Because lets face it, nothing is as irritating as realizing you're out of something when you've already got dinner going. The meal I'd planned for tonight was simple but hearty: BLTs and tomato soup.

The tomato soup recipe that I originally planned to use was in the same "quick & easy" cookbook as the onion soup recipe that tasted like runny styrofoam. Last night's dismal soup experience taught me a valuable lesson: if it sounds like its going to be bland, it probably is. After reading through the book's tomato soup recipe and noticing that, like the onion soup, no spices of any kind were included, I decided to hunt for a recipe elsewhere. is generally my online cookbook of choice since the ratings and reader reviews give you a pretty good idea of what a particular dish will turn out like before you begin. Unfortunately, I'd already bought the ingredients to make the soup that was listed in the cookbook that I no longer trust. Every version of tomato soup on listed at least one ingredient that I didn't have, and I hate, hate, hate  "quick" trips to the grocery store.

Finally I said "Screw it" and just decided to wing it. As it turns out, winging it wasn't a bad idea. This soup turned out creamy and delicious with just a hint of underlying basil flavor. And better yet, its easy. This is an ideal meal for cold winter days when you're craving homemade soup but don't feel like standing in the kitchen for an hour chopping, peeling, stirring, etc.

Tomato Basil Soup – Prep time: 5 minutes/Cook time: 45 minutes

  • 6 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 6 oz. cans tomato paste
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Generous handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Dried basil flakes (optional)

Chop up the garlic and toss it and the butter into a stock pot set to medium low. While the butter melts, wash your tomatoes.

Chop the tomatoes up into chunks. Don't worry about peeling or seeding the tomatoes. That requires more effort than we are willing to expend tonight. The chunks don't have to be tiny either. Big chunks, little chunks, it doesn't matter. It's all going to be pureed eventually.

Add the chopped tomatoes, the chicken stock, the tomato paste and the crushed tomatoes to the pot. Set the pot to medium-low and put the lid on. Then go do something else for 30 minutes. All you need to do is stir the soup periodically. 

After joyously neglecting that soup for a half hour, add the salt and puree the whole pot with an immersion blender (yes, he finally bought me one) until the tomato soup is smooth. Chop up the fresh basil. Add the cream and the fresh basil to the pot. 

Let the soup simmer for 15 more minutes. This part is the most important. The basil flavor has to have time to leech out into the soup, but you can't add it in the beginning because you don't want it ending up pureed with the tomatoes. 

After you let the basil simmer for 15 minutes, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each with a dollop of sour cream and dried basil flakes. This recipe makes a pretty large pot of soup, so be prepared to freeze some of it. 

I won't insult your intelligence by giving you instructions on how to make the BLTs. If BLTs are a problem then its time to just throw in the towel and go to McDonalds. 

Happy dining!

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