Tomato Basil Soup

Tomato Basil Soup in a No-Knead Country Bread Bowl

This is my favorite version of an iconic soup.  There is an unusual combination of ingredients for a tomato soup, but they work so very well!  There is very little cream in this soup (you may certainly omit it) and it is gluten-free (provided the stock is). Just a rich tomato and vegetable puree that is perfect on a wintry day with a grilled cheese sandwich, or in a bread bowl. Serves 12

3 Tablespoons butter

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 large Spanish onion, chopped (about 3 cups)

5 large carrots, peeled and sliced

2 ribs celery, diced

1 1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (see video how-to)

3 14-ounce cans whole Italian tomatoes

8 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup sherry

1/3 cup julienne fresh basil

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream

Salt & pepper, to taste

Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium-high heat, add the garlic, onion, carrots, celery, and squash and saute until the vegetable are soft and tender, about 15 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, stock, sherry, basil and cayenne and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until the squash is very tender and soft, about 40 minutes.  Remove from the heat, add the vinegar, sugar, and cream. 

Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it is very smooth and silky. (If you don't have an immersion blender, carefully process in several batches in a blender.)  Taste, and add salt and pepper to taste.

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