This is the perfect soup for winter days like today when the sun is shining but the air is still blistery cold. Soups like this bolster you from the cold without making you feel sluggish and dead to the world after eating them. What’s even better about this soup is that it’s so easy to make since it only requires just a few ingredients. You will, however, need a stick blender to puree everything. (I also feel that it is necessary to remind you to never taste the soup or swipe your finger on the blades of your stick blender. —I know of at least one friend who learned that the hard way.) But, in the absence of a stick blender, a stand blender or food processor will do the trick. And though the texture might change slightly, it isn’t enough to warrant not making this soup. If it is in fact texture you’re after, even better would be to squeeze the solids through a food mill several ladle fulls at a time before mixing everything back together, then adding the remaining ingredients. For me, a food mill would be my last resort even though I have one and keep promising myself to use it. The only ingredient I beg you not to substitute is the creme fraiche. You’ll need the richness of it to cut through the acidity of the tomato. —Under no circumstances would I use anything labeled “low-fat”.
Consider making some crunchy Cheddar Waffled Croutons, which you can read about here.
Tomato Basil Soup
Serves 6 - 8
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 carrots, cut into ½” rounds
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 — 14 ounce cans high quality crushed tomatoes
14 ounce vegetable stock
½ cup crème fraîche, for serving, optional
Place the olive oil, onions and carrots in a 4-quart stock pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the vegetables for about 15 minutes, adjusting the heat if necessary, until the onions are soft, but not browned. The carrots should be firm, but not crunchy. I find the easiest way to go about it is to place the lid on the pot and stirring it every 5 minutes or so; this will help to trap the moisture and steam.
Next, add the sea salt, dried basil, crushed tomatoes and vegetable stock. Return the soup to a gentle boil.
Once the soup has come to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Then, remove the pot from the heat and use and immersion blender to puree the soup, being sure that you’ve gotten all the large chunks of carrots. (Don’t be tempted to taste the soup from the blade. I’ve several friends who’ve gotten seriously hurt by doing this — stitches and all!) Alternatively, you can puree the soup in a blender.
Check for seasonings. Depending on the salt content of your vegetable stock, you might want to add more salt. Serve warm with a dollop of crème fraîche.
I recommend making my Cheddar Waffled Croutons to go along with this soup. You can find the recipe here.
One of the ingredients that helps make this soup so quick and easy to make is are good canned tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are a fantastic pantry staple. Whether they are crushed, pureed, whole or chopped, canned tomatoes are one of those ingredients where it is wiser to spend the money for a higher quality since lesser quality canned tomatoes are often watery and require a bit of doctoring-up with tomato paste.