My notes read: “Thanksgiving 2011…soup was a huge success… note to self, thank Ina Garten for the inspiration.” This was back when the Food Network was more than competitions and grub-marathons. It was a period when popular food icons like Barefoot Contessa and Giada De Laurentis reigned as network queens. And, a moment when novice cooks like me could quietly transform into everyday apprentices.
I admit that I used to watch the Food Network like a crazed addict. The food personalities were absolutely inviting and the light, yet intelligent cooking instruction was the very platform I needed to gain confidence in the kitchen. The student in me took diligent notes and I quickly learned that cooking NEVER needed to be intimidating (sorry Flay, you won’t break me!). As I gained confidence, I finally understood that useless technical jargon was better suited for the masters than the aspiring cook.
I ditched memorizing the definition of terms like “chiffonade” and “macerate” and focused more on executing basic dishes. A natural recipe to conquer was one of the most common known to kids and adults alike…say it with me “TOMATO SOUP!” From the days of mmmm’ good, I always adored a warm bowl of tomato soup with a buttery, crisp grilled cheese.
The tomato soup of my youth was nothing special (e.g. straight from can to pot). Yet, that humble childhood taste seemed to propel my taste buds into wanting more from a common bowl of soup. I wanted to taste the acidity of tomatoes, the richness of butter and cream, and the brightness of fresh herbs. Bottom-line, the food geek in me, wanted to rear its ugly head and create more than a tomato soup…it wanted an everyday tomato basil bisque.
Although it sounds fancy, a bisque is nothing more than a soup with its ingredients pureed. Haters beware, I understand that it can get a lot more scholastic. But, this recipe keeps it neat and easy, as my Food Network mentors suggest. It is a beautiful combination of carrots, celery, onion, and garlic stewed to perfection with bright, canned tomatoes. Finished with heavy cream, fresh herbs, a touch of lemon and a dash of sugar, this tomato soup is indeed my certification that apprentices can be masters at home.
Xoxo, and enjoy one of my favorite soups! E.
- 3 T Unsalted Butter
- 1 T Olive Oil
- ½ Sweet Onion (Vidalia), chopped (approx. 1 cup)
- 2 medium Carrots, chopped (approx. 1 cup)
- 2 Celery Stalks, chopped (approx. ¾ cup)
- 3 Garlic Cloves, minced (approx. 1 T)
- ¾ t Salt
- ½ t Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 3 cups Reduced-Sodium Chicken Broth
- 1 16 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 16 oz. can Diced Tomatoes
- 1 T Tomato Paste
- 1 T Sugar, (plus 1 t. reserved, optional to taste)
- 1 c Heavy Cream
- ¼ c packed, chopped Fresh Basil
- ⅓ c finely grated Parmesan
- 1 T freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
- In a large soup pot, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic cloves, salt and pepper and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables have softened.
- Add the broth, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and the 1 T. sugar to the pot. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Then, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered 30 minutes.
- Remove pot from heat, stir in the heavy cream and basil and let rest 20 minutes.
- Working in small batches (3 to 4 cups at a time, depending on blender size), puree soup in a blender until smooth. Return to pot, and simmer over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes until warm. Stir in the parmesan cheese, lemon juice and an additional 1 t. sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.