Chris' Recipes

Bon Appetite!

Chunky Tomato Basil Soup

Written By: Chris - Mar• 11•16

Bill and I recently returned back to “winter’ after spending a month of summer in South Africa.  Upon our return, we grabbed take out lunch at Perkin’s and enjoyed a small bowl of their delicious soup.  It was surprisingly good and had us craving more.  Thick, creamy soup made with tomatoes as the primary ingredient is one of my ultimate comfort foods.  Classic tomato soup does not have chunks but I wanted the chunks this time because I was trying to duplicate our lunch that we enjoyed so much.  This recipe is also different because I used a good amount of buttermilk and chose canned San Marzano tomatoes for the bulk of the soup.  The tomatoes are imported from Italy and have consistently good flavor.  They have thick flesh, relatively few seeds, and a sweeter, less acidic flavor than other tomato varieties.  Watch for them to go on special because they can be spendy.  Though they are widely available at supermarkets, I have found these large cans from Costco at a value.  The reason I went for the buttermilk is because somehow I ended up with two quarts on hand when restocking the fridge and I needed to use some of it up.  It worked beautifully while cutting down on fat and calories, but I did use some cream because I  really wanted the richness that it brings!

If you’re not feeding a crowd, or don’t wish to freeze any soup, you could easily half or even quarter this recipe.  Whenever I make soup, I like to go big.  It’s more fun to share and makes for a quick meal down the road.

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Ingredients:

6 lb. Tomatoes, peeled, canned (Italian San Marzano are best)
8 14.5 oz cans Petite Diced Tomatoes (reserve for later in recipe)
1 Cup Butter
2 Onions, medium sweet, diced
2 Cups Carrots, diced
2 1/2 Cups Celery, Chopped
4 Garlic Cloves, pressed
1 Quart Buttermilk
1 Cup 1/2 & 1/2
1 Cup Heavy Cream
4 Cups Chicken Stock, homemade
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Better than Bouillion, Chicken
1 Cup Fresh Basil, chopped
1/3 Cup Basil, dried
2 Tablespoons Red Pepper Flakes
Salt & fresh ground Black Pepper, to taste 

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In a heavy pot, (I use the church pan, but a dutch oven works perfectly for smaller batches) heat the butter.  Chop the sweet onion, celery, and carrots into small pieces and saute them in the butter.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook over medium-low heat until the vegetables begin to turn translucent and slightly browned, add the garlic cloves and cook for an additional minute or two.

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Open the large can of tomatoes and pour them in.  Stir occasionally, simmering on very low cooking for about fourty five minutes or up to an hour or more .

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Add the chicken stock, stir and continue to cook on low heat for at least a half an hour.

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Use the immersion blender and process the soup until it is smooth.

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Add buttermilk, and half and half, continuing to blend until very smooth.

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Add the diced tomatoes, herbs, sugar and soup flavoring.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Also add the cream near the end of the process to taste.

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Allow the soup to cook as long as you have time for.  It will begin to turn from bright red to a more orange colorI believe that the longer it can cook on low heat, the better the flavor.  We enjoyed some for dinner, but I allowed it to cook on VERY low (not a boil) overnight before cooling and freezing.

Serve with with crunchy, delicious croutons or a grilled cheese sandwich.  I served “flat out’s” seasoned simply with extra virgin olive oil, a bit of garllic and onion powder and a couple of kinds of shredded cheese including cheddar and mozzarella; baked in the oven until crispy!

Enjoy!

Cheers!
~Chris

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