Friday, November 23, 2012

Tomato Basil Soup

There is a French market-style cafe here in town called La Madeleine and they make the most incredible tomato basil soup. Their version is much less healthy than the one I'm about to share, but for anyone planning to visit NOLA and likes tomato soup, it's worth one guilt-free try. 

[A view from the inside of the cafe].

After trying it for the first time (instantly obsessed), I came home and researched different recipes for a soup like it.  The one I settled on can be found here.  What I do is only slightly different. 

Here's the ingredients I gather to  begin the process (and let me warn you--
I don't measure much): 
  • 3-4 large carrots, peeled, chopped, and cooked until very, very soft
  • 4-5 fresh vine tomatoes (more instructions below)
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 2 cans stewed tomatoes
  • Huge handful of fresh sweet basil leaves
  • Dried sweet basil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Ground sage
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Chicken broth (I'm sure veggie broth would taste just as good)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 fresh lemon (squeeze this over carrots while cooking with spices as well as the tomatoes)
  • 1 stick of butter (unsalted is fine...the stuff you bake with). 

[Just like when we make our homemade guacamole and add 
ridiculous amounts of cilantro, I add way more fresh basil than the 
average person would. Makes the soup taste so fresh and earthy.]

Spices.  The "ground" you see is ground sage. Bought in the fancy spice section of one of those new fresh market stores...Sage will soon join my basil as one of my personally grown herbs.

The "wet" ingredients, I guess you could say. I think I've added white wine to this recipe before as the tomato-cooking phase of the process.  
Nice touch if you think of it (not shown: fresh lemon).

What you see here is the butter, very soft carrots (previously cooked), 
chicken broth, and olive oil.  
Allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes, then slowly add in the spices.

These are fresh vine tomatoes, with more spices: dried sweet basil, minced garlic cloves, salt & pepper. 

Eventually, once the tomatoes were nice and soft, 
gradually stir in the carrot mixture from the sauce pan. 

Into a blender, combine the two bubbling pots 
(along w/ 1 can of tomato sauce & 2 cans of stewed tomatoes).  

Give it a few strong pulses and you're done. 

If you're lucky, the texture will stil bel slightly lumpy, but smooth enough 
that it now resembles slurp-worthy soup.

[Storing the soup in a Ball jar looks way cooler 
than an old, crusty plastic container.]

Suggested ways to enjoy this healthy, fresh, & aromatic soup: 
  • Toasted French bread (the soup serves as a dip in this scenario).
  • Side of steamed broccoli and/or beans and/or peas and/or asparagus...anything green. The contrast is beautiful with the coppery-red soup.
  • Side of soft, hot corn bread. My choice every day if I could. yyyyUUm. 
  • Talapia, ahi tuna or chicken.  Here, you could either sip the soup as is, or drizzle it over a serving of whole wheat pasta, allowing it to be a sauce...then of course sprinkle some parmesan).
  • Dip a hot, flaky grilled cheese sandwich into it. 
  • Any other suggestions? 


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