This simple, creamy soup is enhanced by the bright flavor of fresh basil. It is delicious warm or at room temperature by the bowl or atop pasta with steamed veggies and a touch of garlic oil for a complete meal. Heirloom Tomatoes are found at many farms in Maine- Morning Dew Farm in Newcastle has several delicious varieties available through their CSA or at the Damariscotta Farmer’s Market.
1 large Vidalia or sweet onion, minced
3 cloves garlic minced
3 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white or black pepper
2 Tablespoon sugar
6 large tomatoes peeled, seeded and chopped (approximately 4 cups)
1 cup light cream or plain soymilk
12 large leaves fresh basil
Place the onion in a medium saucepan. Sauté over medium heat with the garlic, olive oil and butter. Cook until the onions are transparent. Stir the onions often- Do not let the onions brown.
Deglaze the pan with sherry. Stir the onions and sherry well, scraping the bottom to incorporate all of the brown bits of flavor. Cook the sherry and onions on medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook over low heat another 10 minutes, stirring often.
Wash the basil leaves well and pat dry with paper towels. Stack the leaves one on top of each other on a cutting board. Roll the leaves up into a tight cylinder with the stems at the bottom and the tips at the top. Using a sharp knife and starting at the tips/top, carefully cut the leaves into 1⁄8” (1mm) slices. End just before the stems. Set the stems aside (these are wonderful to put in a baggie in the freezer for the next time you want extra flavor in your homemade stock.) Lift the ribbons gently and sprinkle them down on the cutting board to unfurl and separate the ribbons. This is called a chiffonade of basil.
Now is the time to puree your soup. If you have an immersion blender it is perfect for blending the soup right in the pan. If you have a regular blender, puree the soup by the cup-full being very careful not to burn yourself. Return all of the pureed soup to the pan.
When the tomatoes and onions are all pureed add the cream to the pan and stir. Heat the soup on low just until it’s is warm enough for your taste.
Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with the fresh basil ribbons. You are ready to eat!