Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Got Tomatoes?

I do!  About 5 pounds in fact!  In addition, my herb garden is overrun with basil and is trying to flower.  I've heard that once basil flowers, it becomes bitter.  Is that true?  Either way, I keep cutting and cutting and telling my friends to please help themselves.  In honor of my summer bounty, I've made a Summer Tomato Basil Soup with Basil Cream, adapted from Joanne Weir's recipe in Weir Cooking In The City.  I love this soup because it has a fresh, clean, and pure taste.  The basil cream dresses it up a bit, but melts like mad, looks  messy, and in my opinion, ruins it.  Note:  The cream will spread rapidly once dolloped on the soup, so dollop right before serving. The soup can be made ahead and reheated.  To me, without the basil cream, it's beautiful and like summer in a bowl!  

Summer Tomato Basil Soup with Basil Cream

Serves 6, with a nice grilled cheese or goat cheese tart (that's how I like it).  In addition, you can make it over the weekend and have a healthy soup for lunch each day.


1 cup heavy cream (optional)
3 fresh basil sprigs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
5 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, quartered, and seeded (the seeds can make it bitter), Click here to find out how to peel a tomato.
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped basil leaves, for garnish


For the cream (don't do it!):
In a small saucepan, heat the cream until bubbles appear around the edges.  Add one sprig of basil.  Remove from the heat and cover for 1 hour.  Then refrigerate.

For the soup (do this!):
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. When the oil looks shimmery, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 7 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, remaining 2 sprigs of basil, chicken stock, and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced by one-quarter, about 20 minutes or so.  Let cool for 10 minutes.  Using tongs, remove the basil.

In a blender, puree the soup in several batches on high speed until smooth.  Do not use a food processor, a blender is really best for this.  Strain into a clean soup pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Add the sugar and season with the salt and pepper.

Optional: Remove the basil from the cream.  Whip the cream until soft peaks just begin to form.  Season with salt and white pepper to taste.

To serve:
Reheat the soup (if necessary) over medium heat until warm/hot.  Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the chopped basil.  Optional: dollop with the cream.  Serve immediately.  Delicious!

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