Cream of Tomato Soup

Tastes like summer, but perfect for a winter day’s lunch!   Do you love the fresh tomatoes of summer, but are not so sure what to do with these Locavorious *frozen* tomatoes?   Here’s a soup that’s easy, flavorful and hearty.  It does not come from, nor taste like a can.   Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches and wax nostalgic, or update this classic into a vegan version with olive oil and coconut milk.  Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook by Ina Garten. 

2 tablespoons good olive oil (or 1 T olive oil + 1 T butter)

1 red onion, chopped

2-4 carrots, scrubbed, unpeeled and chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic (~ 3 cloves)

1 cup water or veggie stock

16 oz frozen whole tomatoes

15 oz frozen stewed tomatoes, thawed enough to get out of the container

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup heavy cream, half & half, milk or coconut milk (or a combination – I used 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup half & half)

Grated parmesan cheese, for garnish.  Can also garnish with croutons, sour cream, or some chopped herbs.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the water, whole and stewed tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, salt, and pepper and stir well.  Increase heat, and gently break up the frozen stewed tomatoes.  Bring the soup to a boil, and when the tomatoes are fully thawed, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 -40 minutes.

Remove soup from the heat.  Add the cream to the soup, stir to combine.  Carefully puree with a stick blender to desired consistency.  (If you prefer a super smooth soup, process through a food mill into a bowl, discarding only the dry pulp that’s left.)   Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot, garnish and serve.

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