Tomato Basil Bisque

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For many, 2014 started off really cold. Who ever heard of a polar vortex? Chicago being labeled Chiberia? I was fortunate enough to have missed the brutally cold air but the mere thought of it made me retreat to the warmth of my kitchen and make soup — a staple on a normally chilly day but especially welcome during a deep freeze. Being a new year with all those typical New Year resolutions, I wanted to make a hearty yet super healthy soup that would prevent frost bite on a nippy day. Tomato Basil Bisque was my answer! It has incredible health benefits from both the tomatoes (lycopene, vitamins A,  C and K and beta-carotene to name just a few perks) and the fresh basil (Vitamins A and K, iron, and many essential minerals and oils). And by using fat-free half and half instead of full fat heavy cream, I reduce the fat and caloric intake helping to recede the waistline (New Year resolution perhaps?). However, adding the grilled cheese croutons might not help reduce the waistline….oh but indulge yourself!

In a large soup pot begin by sauteing the onions, garlic and fresh basil in 2 tbsp of olive oil. Cook for roughly 10 minutes. Add the white wine and continue cooking on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring often. Next, add the tomatoes and their juices along with 1 tsp of salt and pepper. Bring to a rapid boil. Turn off heat and, using your hand immersion blender (or a regular blender if you don’t have an immersion one), puree the soup so there is just a slight tomato texture left. With the soup still off the heat, slowly add the cream, stirring to blend well. On a low flame, heat the soup for 10 minutes (do not bring to a boil). Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking. Ladle into bowls, garnish with grilled cheese “croutons” and freshly chopped basil and enjoy your healthy bisque by a warm fire!

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Garnish each bowl with freshly chopped basil and a few grilled cheese “croutons” . Serve immediately.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
½ yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
4 tbsp fresh basil, torn in pieces
½ cup white wine
8 cups canned diced tomatoes, with juices
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup heavy cream (or fat-free half and half works great too!)
chopped fresh basil, for garnish
grilled cheese croutons, for garnish

Serves 6-8

* Recipe adapted from Cristina’s of Sun Valley.