I served this soup to friends for lunch a few weeks ago. A few days later a friend asked for the recipe claiming she was going through soup “withdrawals”, so I know it’s good.
I can’t remember the exact source from which this was adapted. Although, I do remember it was from a man who had wanted to recreate the tomato soup that his wife loved from a department store café. It had caught my attention because a few former coworkers and I loved that soup as well. Anytime we’d gone there for lunch, we made sure to get a cup, if not a bowl, of their tomato soup. Anyhow, after making his version, which was really good, I started making my own. I used dried basil, instead of fresh because I always have it on hand, and canned crushed tomatoes, instead of whole, because I found it typically made the soup less watery. Recently, I started adding a few cloves of garlic, but I’ve made many batches of this without them and have had no complaints.
Since canned tomato is the main ingredient, it is imperative that you buy the very best canned crushed tomatoes that you can find. What I appreciate most about this soup, aside from it’s rich texture and taste, is that it really doesn’t require very much to make, because most of the ingredients are things that you might already have on hand, except for the crème fraîche. However, heavy cream, quark or a full-fat Greek yogurt would work as well.
Tomato Basil Cream Soup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups carrots, sliced into ½” rounds, about 3 medium carrots
- 2 cups red onions, diced, about 2 medium red onions
- 2 small garlic cloves, finely minced, optional
- 2-3 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1½ tablespoons dried basil
- 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 14-16 ounces chicken stock, preferably homemade
- ½ cup crème fraîche, plus extra for serving
Add the oil, carrots, red onion and two teaspoons of sea salt to a large pot over medium heat. Sweat out the vegetables for about 15-20 minutes, adjusting the heat if necessary, until the onions are soft, but not browned. The carrots should be firm, but not crunchy. I find that popping the lid on the pot will help trap steam and moisture in the pot and will require minimal effort on your part, just an occasional stirring every 5 minutes or so.
Next, add the pepper, basil and garlic, and cook for one additional minute. Then, add the crushed tomatoes and chicken stock. Raise the heat to high. Once the mixture begins to bubble, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Then, turn off the heat, and with an immersion blender, safely puree the soup, ensuring that you get all the bits carrots and onions. Remember not to be tempted to taste the soup directly from the immersion blender blades. Alternatively, if you don’t have an immersion blender you can puree the soup, in batches, in a stand blender or food processor.
Then, whisk in ½ cup of crème fraîche until uniform in color. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt if necessary. Adding additional salt will greatly depend on how salty your broth is. I typically use unsalted broth, so I find that ¾ – 1 teaspoon of sea salt seasons the soup nicely. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche.