Soup: What you Need
- 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Medium Onions, chopped roughly
- 6 Medium Garlic cloves (Mince as finely as you can, or use a garlic press)
- Dash of Cayenne or hot pepper flakes
- 2 Bay leaves
- 4 (28-ounce) can Whole Tomatoes in juice (We like Muir Glen Fire Roasted tomatoes-you can find them at Sprouts or Central Market)
- 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 6 slices of good sandwich bread, crusts removed, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 4 cups low-sodium Chicken Broth
- 1/2 Cup of chopped Chives
- 1/2 Cup of chopped Basil
- 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
Heat 4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil over Medium-high heat in a good-sized pot (you are going to need 4-6 inches of clearance from the top of the soup to the rim of the pot) until oil shimmers and moves freely (about 2 mins). Add Onion, Garlic, Cayenne Pepper (optional), and Bay leaves. (forgive the blurry pictures – we were in a hurry to get dinner ready!)
Stir to avoid Garlic burning, and cook until Onions are translucent, 3-5 minutes.
Pour in 4 cans of Tomato with their juices.
Use a wooden spoon or potato masher to break up tomatoes into small pieces (no bigger than 2-3 inches).
“Bruise” 1/4 cup of Basil leaves, roughly chop, and add to soup. (Suggestion: “Bruising” any herb brings out the rich flavor of the herb, and will make your soup much more aromatic. Simply use the flat side of a good sized butcher’s knife and place over the herb leaves. Pound the flat side of the knife with your fist 2 or 3 times.)
Throw in the Brown Sugar and Bread pieces. The reason we are using Bread instead of Cream (as with traditional recipes) is two-fold: first, it is healthier, and second, cream thickens the soup but dulls the flavor, while the bread achieves the right thickness without dulling the flavor.
Bring the mixture up to a boil. Stir the mixture frequently. Reduce heat to medium and cook until bread begins to break apart, 3-5 mins.
Remove Bay leaves and throw them away.
If you have a hand-held blender, this would be the time to use it. Remove soup from the heat and put the blender’s blade 2-3 inches below the surface of the soup (otherwise, you will start slinging soup all over the place). Add 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil and blend until soup is a nice smooth texture (2-3 minutes). If you are using a non-stick pot, be careful not to scratch the bottoms or sides with the metallic blender. Stir up the bottom contents of the pot with a wooden spoon to ensure you blend evenly.
If you do not have a hand-held blender, use a regular blender. Make sure the glass can take heat! (Read the labels, box instructions, or look up your blender Make/Model on the internet) Let the soup sit for 5-10 mins before you add to the blender. Only fill blender half-way and seal lid tightly. (Suggestion: the heat from the soup will expand in the sealed space, so use a kitchen towel to hold the lid down and ensure you do not spill – otherwise, you’re kitchen will look like a cheap horror movie). Add 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil and blend until soup is a nice smooth texture (2-3 minutes). Put the newly blended soup into another pot or heat-resistant bowl. Repeat this process until all the soup is blended.
Return soup to original pot, and pour in Chicken Broth. Bring soup back to a boil, and season with Salt and Pepper to your preference.
Serve individually in bowls. Roughly chop remaining 1/4 Cup of Basil, and add to the top. Server with a side of grated Parmesan Cheese.
Here is a picture of our Table Setting