Another school year begins…
Our daughter is beginning her clinical year up in Evanston, IL. Once again, we loaded up all of her belongings to move her into a cute little apartment, not far from the “Purple Line” in a beautiful part of town, just outside the Northwestern University campus. The cool breezes off the shores of Lake Michigan have made for an unseasonably cooler summer.
After settling her into the apartment, we walked into town to find a local place to eat lunch. We spotted an adorable restaurant called The Farmhouse-Evanston. The menu touted local foods, brews, and seasonal fare. With a chill in the air, the tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich sounded wonderful. My daughter ordered it without hesitation. All through the meal, she raved about the creamy soup and hearty, three-cheese sandwich.
After returning home, I was inspired to make a big pot of flavorful tomato soup for the family. What a treat. This recipe makes enough to serve the whole clan with extras to pack into containers for weekday lunches.
…Outstanding soup! Don’t forget to garnish with pieces of garlic toast, Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil.
Creamy Tomato and Basil Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large white onion, chopped
2 (28 oz) cans San Marzano whole, peeled tomatoes
1 1/2 cups water
3 teaspoons chicken soup base
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup half and half
6 – 8 large fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasonings
1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste
In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds, don’t over cook. Add onion; stir and cook until translucent.
Add the two can of tomatoes with juice, chicken base, water, and sugar. Bring to a low simmer. Cook uncovered, for 12-15 minutes. Add the half & half, basil, Italian seasonings, salt and pepper.
Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Serve immediately with a hearty grilled cheese sandwich or a fresh salad.