August 5, 2010 by Stacy McDonald
When my older children were young, there was a particular restaurant in Houston I loved to visit just for their tomato basil soup. Theirs seemed to be a perfect combination of robust tomato, mellowed by butter and rich cream. It was perfectly topped with fresh parmesan and chopped fresh basil. They even sold jars of it in the restaurant. I dreamed of this soup.
Then I discovered this recipe. Well kind of. I spent a few months tweaking it, trying to get it to match my favorite restaurant’s version. I added extra of all my favorite parts. I loved the pungent fresh basil taste, but noticed when I used the fresh stuff while cooking, it lost some of the kick. So, I used dried basil during preparation. That way the flavor permeated the soup, but then I used chopped fresh basil over the parmesan topping to garnish it. Perfect!
And guess what, several years back, I went to the restaurant and ordered their tomato basil soup…and I was shocked. It wasn’t as good as I had remembered. Our version was so, so much better! Later, we opened a tea room and used this recipe. It was a best seller! Well, the tea room is long gone, but the tomato basil soup remains…
Try it out and let me know what you think:
10-12 Roma Tomatoes, peeled (other types of tomatoes work fine too)
(or, in a pinch, you can use 1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes drained.)
3 C. tomato juice
2 C. chicken stock (homemade is best)
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tsp. dried basil leaves
*1 1/2 C. heavy whipping cream
*3/4 C. (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter cut into pieces and slightly softened
*freshly grated Parmesan cheese
*15 or more fresh basil leaves
Combine tomatoes, tomato juice, and chicken stock in a large saucepan. Add dried basil. Bring to a boil, turn down heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer tomatoes in batches to a food processor or blender and process on a pulse setting (it’s nice to have a few small chunks remaining). Return the tomato mixture to the liquid in the saucepan and simmer over low heat. Slowly whisk in cream and softened butter. Whisk until butter is melted and soup is thoroughly heated. Top each soup bowl with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil.
In a pinch, canned crushed tomatoes can be used, but it’s not as good. And if I can’t get fresh basil, I don’t even bother making it. :-)
*If you plan to freeze this soup ahead, leave these ingredients out until you plan to serve the soup.