The basis of this recipe comes from The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. Although I enjoy watching her show and I own one of her cookbooks, I feel like sometimes she can sound a little pretentious with her use of the word “good” to describe the ingredients she is using. She even mentions it in the recipe for this soup; “good olive oil” it calls for. I am a firm believer that when cooking you should use what you have in your kitchen and that recipes are always open for interpretation and modification.
Most of the ingredients in this recipe are pantry staples and when I make this soup I have to buy the basil and tomatoes. I have tried to grow my own basil at home and have failed because the leaves never got to a decent size and after I picked the first set of leaves the plant never replenished them the way it was. The plant would also die out once winter came because there was not enough heat or sun to keep the plant alive; basil loves warm sunny climates. Unless you live in Florida or Southern California and can sustain growing basil outside, I suggest that you just buy the fresh basil leaves from the grocery store. It’s always a good idea to rinse the basil leaves off with water to make sure there is no sand or dirt on them.
- 3-4 large ripe tomatoes (beefsteak work the best, but you can use plum tomatoes as well)
Cut the tomatoes in half and set on cookie sheet or baking pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder and place in an oven set to broil. Broil the tomatoes in the oven for 30 minutes.
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs salt (kosher or sea)
- 2 tsp pepper
- 2 yellow onions chopped
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbs unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 (28 oz) can chopped or crushed tomatoes with their juice
- 4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1 tsp fresh or dry thyme leaves
- 1 qt chicken stock or water (to make it vegetarian)
Fill a large stock pot with onions, garlic, olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and thyme and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes or until onions are browned.
Once the basil looks like it is wilted, turn off heat and purée the mixture with an immersion (hand) blender until it becomes smooth and creamy. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper if needed.