Tomato basil soup is one of my favorite soups in the world. Pairing it with a hunk of crusty bread sends my tastebuds straight to heaven. This recipe is creamy, comforting, and yumscious!
Tomato Basil Soup at Cozy Cafés Near and Far
The first time I tried tomato basil soup was at la Madeline, that cozy French café and bakery that makes amazing pastries and always has a warm fireplace to huddle next to in the winter. The flavor and texture of the soup and the bread served with it were just perfect. When we lived in the Dallas area, I returned frequently to the restaurant, always ordering the same thing: tomato basil soup. It was easy enough to pretend I was sitting at a café in Europe if I ignored all the southern twangs around me.
Then I actually traveled to Europe and ate in cozy cafes (some with fireplaces, all with fabulous bread). In France, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, I ordered tomato basil soup anytime it was on the menu. The words sound wholly different when said with a short a instead of a long a in both tomato and basil. To-mah-to bah-sil just feels wrong coming off this Texan’s tongue. (Go ahead; say it out loud when nobody’s listening.) Funnily enough, to-mah-to eventually normalized for me. Bah-sil still doesn’t sound right.
Why Is the First Bite the Best?
Maybe there’s something to falling in love for the first time, because few places have measured up to my memories of la Madeline’s tomato basil soup. (Could it be a trick of the memory that the first bite is the best? The same thing has happened to me with cannoli. For the life of me, I can’t find a cannoli as perfect as my first one. It came from a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint in New York City, and nothing ever tasted so good. But that’s another story altogether.)
Back to this soup: A couple local places offer tomato basil soups, but those soups never feel quite as rich as the soup in my memory. In desperate times, I’ve brought home the jarred la Madeline Tomato Basil soup from the grocery store. It’s fine, although it seems overpriced since I’m still going to have to do the “cooking.” Somehow, too, it’s less comforting, perhaps because there’s no fireplace to go along with it.
I was craving a bowl of tomato basil soup recently and came up with this recipe with simple ingredients from my pantry and basil from window sill. Oh, honey, it’s good. It was even better on days two and three for lunch.
Healthy? Maybe. But it’s definitely delicious.
Sometimes good food can be healthy, and I’m choosing to believe that this soup, with its tomatoes, onion, garlic, and of course, fresh basil, must have some redeeming nutritional value. At a minimum, this recipe is low-carb if you don’t add some bread on the side. (Who am I kidding? I’m not skipping the pleasure of dipping bread into my soup! The bread in this picture was cut from a day-old (aka half-price) loaf of Parmesan Cheese bread from Blue Baker. Yum! )
What matters most is that it’s delicious.
I used a regular blender to get the perfect consistency, because that’s all I have at the moment. Pouring the soup back and forth into the pot was tedious and messy, which is why this immersion blender is on my wish list.
Let me know if you try my recipe. And I’d love it if you’d leave a comment and let me know what your favorite soup is. I like trying new soups when it’s cold outside!
Tomato Basil Soup
- soup pot
- immersion blender or blender
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 2 tbsp Butter Please use real butter. Please.
- ¾ cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 cans Diced Tomatoes Basil, Garlic & Oregano I prefer Red Gold brand because there's no added sugar and they have BPA-free cans.
- 4 cups Chicken broth
- 5 leaves Basil
- 4 ounces Cream cheese Cut into small 4-6 chunks for easier melting.
- ¼ cup Half & half or heavy cream
- In the soup pot, warm the olive oil and melt butter over medium heat.
- Add chopped onion and garlic to the pot and sauté until onion is translucent. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add the canned tomatoes and chicken broth to the pot and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium or medium-low. Add basil leaves, half & half and cream cheese. Stir to melt the cheese. Don't let it boil again or the cheese will get grainy. Let it simmer for 25-30 minutes.
- When the cream cheese has melted, blend the soup until the texture is smooth (no chunks or bits!)
- Top with shredded parmesan, fresh basil, and/or fresh-cracked black pepper and serve.