Helen might approach this soup using her painterly style. What is it the first thing we think of, when we think of creamy tomato soup? The bold red hue? The silky smoothness? The depth of flavors? Perhaps all of those. And how will we achieve that goal?
In my mind, I see Helen approaching this project in phases. First, establish a suitable foundation and, with that foundation firmly in place, add complexity and vibrancy. Obviously, the tomatoes will be the foundation. The tomatoes provide the base color and key flavor. The onions and carrots will provide an unseen, subtle accent. The oil and garlic are essential, but they will stay in the background. The chicken stock adds a new dimension to the rich body of the tomato. The cream, oh, the cream is the finishing touch that turns this into a masterpiece. Basil brings the vibrancy with the magician’s trick aimed to appeal to the eyes and palate. Salt and pepper to taste, because spice is the spice of life!
2 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 cups onions, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
4 garlic cloves, whole, but mashed
6 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbs salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
a little bit of julienned fresh basil, for garnish
Heat a large, stainless steel pot to medium/low heat. Sauté the onions and carrots for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for about one minute. Remove the garlic. Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock and basil. Bring the soup to a boil and then lower to a simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook uncovered for about 30 to 45 minutes, to soften the tomatoes and thicken the soup. Stir in the cream and simmer for one more minute. Pour the soup into a blender and puree. Pour the soup through a strainer and discard the solids. Pour the soup back into the pot and simmer for another minute or two. Turn off the heat and ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with slender, slivers of basil leaves.
Serve with crackers or grilled cheese sandwiches.