Do you have a signature dish? An old stand-by that you know will always impress? I do. I’ve hinted about posting it since the day I started my blog. I’ve probably got 100 pictures of it on my hard drive. But the pictures never looked as appealing as the dish itself, so I didn’t post it. Which is a shame, really, because this is such an easy dish and everyone I’ve ever served it to (even when I forgot a key ingredient! Sorry, Carrie!) has loved it! So, even though I’m not impressed with this picture either, I’m going to share it with you.
This soup is based off one I used to get in my favorite restaurant in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. It’s a local place called Tomato Street and it’s like a funky, cooler version of Olive Garden. The food is MUCH better, too. I’d always get this soup and tons of their to-die-for fresh garlic bread, a wonderful spicy chicken pasta, and creme brulee for dessert. And then I’d leave, a bit overly full and entirely satisfied.
When we moved away from Coeur d’Alene, and I found myself suddenly cut off from my favorite Italian food fix, I had to try and make the soup myself. I tried lots of different variations before I settled on a winner. You’re not going to believe me, but this soup is better with canned tomatoes rather than fresh. (Especially if you spring for San Marzano tomatoes) Easier too, always a consideration with three little kiddles underfoot. And I know peeling celery is a pain in the bum, but it really makes a difference in this soup. That peeled celery is the ingredient that had me stumped for the longest time!
Without further ado. . . . .
Tomato Basil Soup
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large sweet onions, chopped into large dice (you can use any onions you like, but sweet onions make it really special.)
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
4 stalks celery, peeled and diced
salt and pepper
2 28oz cans of unpeeled tomatoes
1 46oz can of V8 or tomato juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cups basil, chopped
1 cup cream
1 cup parmesan (optional)
In a large soup pot, heat the butter and oil over medium heat until melted and bubbly.
Add the onion, garlic and celery and cook until the onion is translucent and the celery is softened. Add salt and pepper to taste. (I usually use about a teaspoon of kosher salt and a half teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.)
While the vegetables are cooking, pour one can of tomatoes into your blender and puree.
When the onions are ready, pour the pureed tomatoes into the pot and stir. Repeat with the second can.
Stir in the V8 or tomato juice.
Add the sugar and bring the soup up to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Add the balsamic vinegar and basil and simmer 5 minutes longer.
Turn off the heat and let the soup cool for 10 minutes.
Stir in the cream and parmesan, if using.
Serve with garlic bread or grilled cheese sandwiches and enjoy!!!
P.S. This soup is almost better the second day! It’s a great one to make ahead if you’re having a party.
P.P.S. If you don’t feel like having soup the next day, simmer it a bit while you boil some tortellini. Pour the drained tortellini right into the soup and cook for a few minutes longer. Makes a delicious sauce!
P.P.P.S. This does make quite a large pot of soup. If you don’t want to eat it all right away, pour it into a freezer bag and pop it in the freezer. Then you’ll have a nice little treat waiting for you on a rainy day when you don’t feel like cooking!
P.P.P.P.S. Really, you need to make this soup. I promise you’ll be glad you did!
P.P.P.P.P.S. Hmmmm, 5 post scripts. I think that should do it! Bye now!