Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Though the weather here definitely makes me feel Spring could be just around the corner, a delicious soup still sounds good on these cold, damp evenings. The rain was pouring down as I drove to a meeting at our church last night...and made me wish I had nice bowl of soup waiting for me at home.

When our boys were small and my husband and I were involved in many church activities, one of our common Sunday suppers was tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Didn't take much work to whip open the cans of Campbell tomato soup and fry a few grilled warm, comforting, tasty. As the years went by, my palette got a little fussier and I started experimenting with better brands of tomato soup...and no, I did not try making my own. The point of the Sunday suppers was satisfying, EASY, food.

Fast forward a few more years and now I like to try making many things from scratch...especially soups. As I have been working through the recipes of comfort soups from Life: Beautiful magazine, I must admit I've been looking forward to trying their recipe for Creamy Tomato soup...with one of my favorite flavors, basil. Are any of you fans of basil in cooking? I fell in love with basil when I visited Italy over 10 years ago!

This recipe is fun and easy to make...and such a delight when you make the grilled cheese croutons to dip in the soup! 

Creamy Tomato Soup by Life:Beautiful

3 (1 inch) slices Italian bread

1/4 cup olive oil, divided

1 cup chopped onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

2 (28 ounce)cans whole tomatoes, undrained

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons butter

4 (1/2 inch) slices Italian bread

4 slices cheddar cheese

For soup, remove crusts of bread from i-inch bread slices, discard. Tear bread into 1 inch pieces, set aside.

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Stir in tomatoes and basil. Using a potato masher, mash until tomatoes break down. Stir in brown sugar and bread pieces. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until bread begins to break down.

Transfer cooked mixture in two batches to a blender or food processor; add 1 tablespoon oil to each batch. Cover and blend until smooth. Return soup to pot. Stir in chicken stock. Bring mixture to boiling; reduce heat. Stir in yogurt and simmer until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm, topped with grilled cheese "croutons".

For grilled cheese croutons, heat a large skillet or griddle to medium heat. Spread butter on one side of each 1/2 in slice of bread. Place buttered side down in pan, add cheese and remaining bread slices butter side up. Cook about 2 minutes or until bottoms are golden. Turn sandwiches over and cook for 2 or 3 minutes more, until bottoms are golden and cheese is melted. Cool slightly. Cut into 1 inch cubes.

Recipe makes 6 servings, at 369 calories a serving. 

If you are a tomato soup and basil fan, you will love this soup! Seriously, it is one of the best I have ever tasted! Bon Appetit!  Warmly, Gracia