Basil is an easy herb to grow directly in the ground in your garden or in a small container on your patio or windowsill, but it can be hard to know what to do with the stuff besides making pesto sauce. No offense to pesto, but this Tomato Soup is a nice change of pace. You can use fresh, frozen, or dried basil, depending on the season and what you have in your kitchen. Also, if you have lots of fresh garden tomatoes, you can remove the skins by blanching them and throw them in this soup in place of the canned diced tomatoes the recipe calls for. Store-bought canned, home-canned, or frozen tomatoes all work well.
This soup is a good recipe to have in your meal rotation during the fall and winter seasons. It can be made on the stove top or in the slow cooker, but I prefer the slow cooker because it makes my house smell nice all day while it’s simmering. I use a handheld immersion blender to puree this soup so it’s not chunky, and it’s well worth the small investment if you don’t already have an immersion blender (you also can use immersion blenders to puree homemade applesauce). This tomato soup is a variation on the soup recipe found at 365 Days of Slow Cooking.
This soup goes well with crusty bread and salad, or with a grilled cheese sandwich. My oldest daughter loves when I pack it in her thermos and send it to school for lunch, along with a small container of Saltine crackers. No matter where or how you serve it, tomato soup has always been a great comfort food, and this may become your favorite tomato soup recipe. Try it. I promise you’ll love it!
Slow Cooker Tomato Soup
1 cup roughly diced carrots
1 cup roughly diced onions
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried basil or 1/4 cup fresh basil (I throw the fresh leaves in whole, and they get pureed later)
2 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes with juice (Or use about 5 to 6 fresh tomatoes with skins removed)
4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup flour
1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup butter
2 cups half and half, warmed (you can use milk to lighten the recipe, or use heavy cream if you want to be really indulgent)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Place carrots, onions, oregano, basil, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, and bay leaf in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for about five hours or until vegetables are soft. Remove bay leaf.
2. Take lid off slow cooker and puree soup mixture with an immersion blender or hand blender until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can eat this soup as it is, but it tastes much better with a smooth texture.
3. About 30 minutes before serving, melt butter over low heat in a skillet and add flour. Stir constantly with a whisk for about three minutes. Slowly stir in 1 cup of hot soup. Add another 3 cups of soup and stir until smooth. Add all back to the slow cooker.
4. Stir and add Parmesan cheese and warmed half and half. I warm the half and half for about a minute in the microwave. This keeps it from curdling when added to the hot soup. Then add salt and pepper to the slow cooker, and add additional basil and oregano if needed.
5. Enjoy soup by itself or with crusty bread, grilled cheese sandwiches, or salad.