Rustic Tomato-Basil Soup

Tomato soup and grilled cheese are truly a match made in heaven and the perfect starter for a romantic Valentine‘s dinner!💕A medley of tomatoes, basil, onions, and bell pepper, simmered with broth and a little cream and then topped with a heaping spoonful of finely grated Parmesan come together to create this toasty dish for those wild and woolly wintery nights. Purée it for an elegant soup, or serve it chunky, for a rustic character with flavorful bites of sautéed veggies. Either way, it’s delish and so fun with a splash of balsamic vinegar mixed in. Make your mini grilled cheese sammies with your favorite combo of cheeses and let them soak up the soup! Or, try our grilled corn and cheddar focaccia with this soup!

Rustic Tomato-Basil Soup

This soup can be pureed with an immersion blender for a smooth, creamy soup, or left chunky for a more rustic soup with tasty bites of veggies. Also, you can substitute the cream for more broth for a low-cal version and you can always use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth for a vegetarian soup! Splash a little balsamic vinegar into the soup for a fun twist!
Servings 4
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ orange or red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 stalk celery chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 6 large Roma or plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup basil leaves 8-10 leaves thinly sliced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup half & half or substitute more broth or heavy cream, instead
  • teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions

  • In a five to six-quart pot, sauté onions in olive oil over medium-high heat until soft and just beginning to brown.
  • Add garlic, bell pepper, and celery to the onion in the pot. Continue to cook for about four to five more minutes over medium-high heat. Celery and bell pepper should still be somewhat crunchy.
  • Add tomatoes and cook just until heated through, stirring the veggies several times to mix.
  • Stir in chicken broth, half & half, and heat mixture just until boiling, stirring well. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Remove from heat, stir in balsamic vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • At this point, you can blend the soup with an immersion blender to make a smooth, creamy soup. If you do this, then reheat the soup until piping hot after blending. If you choose to serve it chunky, then serve it as is.
  • Garnish soup with one to two tablespoons grated Parmesan for each bowl and serve hot with crusty French bread or your mini heart grilled cheese sandwiches.

To make the sandwiches

  • Place a couple of slices of your favorite cheese between two slices of your favorite bread. Grill as usual in a frying pan. Then cut out hearts with a heart-shaped cookie cutter. You can also cut the bread first and then grill the little heart sandwiches. I find that is an easier method with thicker bread slices.

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