By Carol Traulsen
I am a tomato soup enthusiast, and for years I have been searching for the perfect recipe. Nothing is better than a bowl of hot, creamy tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich on a cold day. This recipe for tomato basil soup is as close I’ve come to comfort food nirvana. The intense flavor of just picked tomatoes and freshness of the herbs takes this to another level of satisfying. The other life-changing element I discovered was using a combination of different tomatoes, like heirloom and Early Girl varieties. The taste was phenomenal! It goes without saying that you may use canned tomatoes and dried herbs. Just remember dried herbs have more intense flavor. The ratio is 3 to 1. One tablespoon of fresh herbs equals one teaspoon of dried herbs. You can use cream, half-and-half, or whole milk. Don’t use low fat milk. The more fat the easier it is to blend and it adds a depth and richness of flavor that makes the soup satisfying. Careful not have the heat on too high it will curdle the milk or cream. This recipe should serve eight to twelve people. But in my house the bowls are bigger and we usually go in for seconds!
Always taste as you go. If it tastes acidic, add sugar to counteract it.
If you’re unsure or out of fresh herbs use ½ tsp dried oregano and1/2 tsp dried basil. In a pinch a jar of dried Italian seasonings does the trick too.
I like my soup thicker so I use less stock. Again, adjust to taste.
If you intend to freeze this soup, leave out the milk or cream. Freeze it as is and when you re-heat add the milk or cream while stirring constantly.
Finishes and Flourishes
Add a dollop of sour cream, a drizzle of creme fraiche or half-and-half when you serve.
Top with home made croutons or cut up your grilled cheese sandwich into crouton-sized bites and float it on top.
Top with fresh basil leaves.