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Healing with Savory Tomato Basil Soup

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Do you want something warm and satisfying for dinner? What’s better than a big bowl of warm soup? I woke up this morning and was not feeling that great. You know, the kind of day that you want to stay in your pajamas and just watch old movies. Yep, that kind of day. I don’t want to put much effort into a big meal today but I need some good healthy soup to get me back up and moving. As many of you know, I preserve a lot of tomatoes from my garden every year. These tomatoes contain fresh rosemary, fresh basil, garlic with onion and celery. This is perfect for this soup. As a note, when making tomato soup, you find lots of recipes that add sugar to bring down the acid. In both my tomato soup and spaghetti sauce, I add carrots instead of sugar to reduce the acid. It’s a more natural sugar and healthier. If you don’t have homemade canned tomatoes, don’t fret; you can buy Italian stewed tomatoes that work great in this wonderful soup.  

Did you know that tomatoes are low in calories and high in nutrients? Tomatoes contain a large number of carotenoids, otherwise known as lycopene, which gives the tomatoes that bright red color and many other health benefits. Research shows that the body absorbs lycopene better when it is cooked; heat increases the absorption rate of the lycopene. It is also rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins C and E. It has been said that tomato soup appears to reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancers. There are many other benefits such as protecting the skin from the sun, lowering the risk of age-related vision loss and improving bone loss. The best yet, it boosts the immune system. Now, that’s a powerful soup. Who knew that hot tomato soup had so many benefits? 

When I was a young girl and wasn’t feeling well, my mom always made me soup served with a side of soda crackers. Each of us in the house had our own favorite soup and mine was always tomato. I remember being cuddled up on couch under a blanket and slurping up this warm comfort food. My mom is now gone and I’m in charge of the soup making. So here’s to a healthy warm dinner.  

This soup will store for a week in an airtight container. I like to add croutons and a pinch or two more of parmesan cheese when serving. Another great idea is to serve this soup in a bread bowl or serve it with a grilled cheese sandwich. Today I’m going for the grilled cheese. 

I hope you are all well this new year and celebrate with this great bowl of soup. From my recipe box to yours.

Tomato Basil Soup

1 tbsp. olive oil
2 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes, with the juice (2 qts. homemade)
2 carrots, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
3 ribs celery, finely diced
4 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. dried oregano
1½ tsp. dried basil leaves
½ cup butter
½ cup flour
1 cup fresh-grated parmesan cheese
1½ cups half and half or whole milk
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Start in a large stock pot. Add oil and heat to medium high. Add the carrots, onions and celery and sauté until they start to soften. Add the diced tomatoes, chicken broth, oregano and dried basil. Bring to a slow boil and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. In a separate pot, make a roux using the butter and the flour. On medium heat, melt the butter, then stir in the flour and continue stirring. When the roux is golden brown in color, remove from the heat. Add a large ladle of the tomato soup to the roux mixture and create a thick paste. Add the roux to the large soup pot a little at a time and stir until combined. Add the parmesan cheese, half and half, salt, pepper and fresh basil. Stir over the heat for about another 5 minutes and serve.