4 – 28oz cans Whole Tomatoes (I like San Marzano Style tomatoes)
½ – 6oz can Tomato Paste (so 3 oz)
4 Cloves Garlic chopped (or 3 Tbls minced garlic)
1 small sweet onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
A few Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tbsp brown sugar*
2 Tbsp fresh Thyme
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 small bunch fresh Basil, (rough chopped)
1 small bunch parsley
3 cups of vegetable or chicken stock (add add’l broth depending on thickness of soup)
1 Tbsp lemon zest and Juice of ½ of lemon
3 oz soften cream cheese*
*1 Tbsp brown sugar (softens and mellows out the acidity of the soup and has a richness to it – white sugar works well too)
½ cup half and half (mellows the acidity of the soup and makes it creamy)
*Add 3 oz soften cream cheese and stir in soup til smooth throughout the soup
Cut up good bread into crouton bite sizes, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper and parmesan cheese and toss. Bake in the oven until toasted and crunchy. Sprinkle soup with Crotons, finely cut up basil and parmesan cheese.
Mix sour cream with finely chopped basil and/or chives and add a dollop of sour cream to each bowl of soup.
Bacon and chives – Cook bacon til just crispy, chop till fine and chop chives and garnish soup with bacon and chives
Accompany soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.
In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-low heat until butter melts. Add onion and carrots, dash of salt and pepper and cook vegetables still just tender.
Add in tomato paste and chopped garlic and cook until blended and the garlic is soft.
Add the tomatoes with juice, broth and thyme, a few red pepper flakes and sugar. Cook tomatoes on medium high heat (don’t allow to boil) til they have broken down and are soft, about 40 minutes. Use an immersion blender and blend until smooth. Add add’l broth if it is too thick.
(I like immersion blender best, less messy and less time it takes to blend the soup til smooth in a regular blender) Don’t worry if there are little bits of tomato or other vegetables still in soup (it’s rustic) unless you like it completely smooth.
Add lemon zest and juice. (lemon adds a freshness and spark to the soup)
Add cream cheese.
Reheat soup on medium low heat til cheese has melted and blended in with soup. Serve warm.
6 .Garnish with basil/parsley mixture or any of the other garnishes or other preferences.
I serve the soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. The soup is delicious served alone as well.
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