In less than a month, I’ll be taking out my favorite pot to start making soups instead of boiling water for corn on the cob, but the other night I had a hankering for a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. I had all the fixings, and since it wasn’t too humid, I thought Saturday night was perfect to make my favorite summertime soup. (Full disclosure, this is loosely based on a Cooking Light recipe of many years ago.)
Now, I love this time of year for the tomatoes, but I have a really hard time taking heirloom tomatoes that I pay $4 a pound and making anything other than a delicious side salad, sandwich, or something that shows off its glorious flavor. So of course, you can use fresh tomatoes if you are incredibly lucky and your garden is overflowing; I chose canned. I had one 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes and a 14 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes. I dumped the can of whole tomatoes in the Dutch oven, took a pair of kitchen scissors, and snipped them into small pieces. I then took my potato masher and went around the pan smashing all the tomatoes until they were somewhat smooth. I added the can of diced tomatoes to add some body, and took one clove of fresh garlic and put it through the garlic press. I almost never use my garlic press, but sometimes it’s really handy; I wanted infused garlic flavor, not pieces that we would be chewing. Using the press was perfect. I put the burner on the lowest heat to warm for about 20 minutes or so and I talked to my dad while it was simmering and losing some of its liquid.
Following this, it’s easy as pie. I added ¾ cup of milk, I used 1 percent, but you can use what you have on hand. I then added about two tablespoons of cream cheese (you can use low-fat if desired), and whisked it into the soup until it was creamy. I then added about ¼ cup of torn basil leaves and stirred. I took it off the burner while I started on my cheese points.
One of my favorite breads is the seeded baguette from Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex, Vermont. When I buy this, I usually cut it half and slip one half in the freezer for later use. I took out two pieces and after they thawed, cut them horizontally. I topped one with Cabot cheddar cheese, the other had my favorite dill weed cheese and placed them on a cookie sheet under the broiler and cooked them until the cheese was bubbly. Earlier, I had sliced half a red onion and soaked the rings in apple cider vinegar. I placed a few slices on top of the cheese, a couple of slices of tomato, and happily munched away. Heaven in a bowl and on a plate that evening.
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
(Note: Fresh tomatoes can be used in place of the canned tomatoes. I would estimate using 4-6 large.)
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes plus its juice
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, petite cut preferred
1 garlic clove, pressed
¾ cup milk (I use 1 percent)
2 Tablespoons cream cheese
¼ cup torn basil leaves, or to taste
In a Dutch oven, add the can of whole tomatoes, and snip the tomatoes with a pair of kitchen scissors or a potato masher. Add the diced tomatoes and garlic and simmer at the lowest heat for about 20 minutes or so. Add milk, and whisk in the cream cheese. Before serving, add basil, stir, and take off heat. Serves four.
Grownup Cheese Points
Take your favorite baguette and slice horizontally. Place your favorite cheese on top and place under the broiler until they become bubbly. Top with some vinegar marinated onions, sliced tomatoes, or as is. Any how you eat it and with whatever topping, it will be delicious. I promise!