To look at our south Florida skies, one would say, “Yup. It’s gonna snow.” Not only are our skies gray but it’s super windy out. Which means it’s the perfect time for a comforting soup. A delicious soup which wraps you up warmly like those pretty fake fur blankets from Macys or Bloomingdales. Recently my two besties, Dana and Andrea, and I met at Seasons 52 for a holiday lunch where I enjoyed a lovely bowl of their cheesy tomato bisque. And, y’all, I have been thinking about it ever since. I came up with my own version and, honestly, it’s so good it doesn’t even need a grilled cheese sandwich alongside it. I made the mistake of purchasing a huge bag of plum tomatoes before it came to me that whole, canned tomatoes would be exceedingly tastier as they’re already ripe, in addition to making the preparation an absolute breeze to prepare. Growing up with a mother who barely knew how to cook, soup meant opening the ubiquitous red and white can of Campbell’s. Our kitchen cabinets were pretty much always stocked with chicken noodle, tomato, cream of chicken and cream of asparagus soups. I loved all the soups but my favorites were tomato and cream of asparagus.
I was well into adulthood when I learned soups could be homemade. Of course, never in our house but I heard it could be done. I believe I really began my culinary adventure after college when I lived and worked in Puerto Rico. But Puerto Rico was never an island big on sandwiches so when I first served my homemade tomato soup, the cup sat next to the sandwich I grew up on. Toasted whole wheat peanut butter sandwiches. That’s what Mama always gave us… had to be whole wheat, toasted dark and cut on the diagonal… to go with a hot pot of Campbell’s. Mama knew nothing of grilled cheese, never mind that was the only thing served with tomato soup. People have always looked at me oddly whenever I mention this combination, however, it makes perfect sense to me. It’s comfort food. It’s what we were rewarded with when we recovered from a cold or the flu. Sick enough that we were kept home from school but not so sick that we could only have broth. To this day, especially when my husband, Jimmy, is traveling, I throw together a quick pot of this tomato bisque. It never, ever fails to satisfy. And if I’m watching my weight I cut back on the amount of butter and skip the heavy cream in its entirety. Enjoy!
Tomato & Basil Bisque
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion, approximately one large onion
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups chicken broth, Pacific brand is a great one
- 2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes
- 1 large handful fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped plus more to garnish if desired
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese plus more to garnish
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot melt butter over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook 5-10 minutes until translucent. Stir occasionally.
- Add carrot, celery and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring well.
- Slowly add flour while stirring through the pot and continue until all the vegetables are coated and the flour is cooked.
- Using a whisk, slowly pour in chicken stock whisking until smooth.
- Add both cans of tomatoes, along with all the juices and the chopped fresh basil.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and, using an immersion blender, process until smooth or carefully transfer to a blender and process.
- Stir in cream and parmesan cheese and taste for salt and pepper.
- Garnish each bowl with basil, shredded parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.