Late last week, the kids were invited to spend some time picking veggies in our neighbor’s garden again. They were thrilled and so was I. After all, when you don’t have your own garden yet, the generously given vegetables from a neighbor’s garden are 100 times better than those from a farmer’s market and a thousand times better than the ones at the grocery store.
They came back with a huge bounty of fresh vegetables that they couldn’t wait to start eating. That night, we dined on some fresh carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers along with our dinner. Now, I have a huge bushel of green peppers and red and yellow tomatoes sitting on my counter that I’m planning to turn into spaghetti sauce tomorrow. We also had a big bowl of grape tomatoes in the fridge. (According to our neighbor, the kids told him that was their favorite vegetable to snack on, so he let them pick to their hearts content. We are blessed with some great neighbors, that’s for sure!)
While the kids would gladly snack on those tomatoes, we still had so many left after their little hands snuck handful after handful. I knew I had to use them before they went bad. So I convinced my husband that a hot soup on a hot day really wasn’t such a bad thing when it was filled with fresh summer veggies. He relented and I hurriedly threw together a delicious and filling Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque.
As someone that usually does not care for tomatoes or tomato soups, I have to say that this soup was out of this world! I loved it. The flavors combined so perfectly and the texture was a little creamy, a little thick, a little chunky – just the way I love my soup. Everyone cleaned their bowls, although my husband and oldest daughter were the only ones who begged for seconds. Considering the healthy, simple goodness in each bowl full, I find that outcome perfectly acceptable!
Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small zucchini, diced
- 1 1/2 lb. grape tomatoes
- 1/2 t. salt
- 2 1/2 c. chicken stock
- 1 T. sugar
- 1 t. salt
- 1 t. black pepper
- 1/3 c. fresh basil, diced
- 1 c. half and half, cream or whole milk
- 2 T. grated Parmesan cheese
- Additional salt and pepper, to taste
1. Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add celery, red pepper and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Add zucchini and tomatoes. Season with 1/2 t. salt. Cook for 5 minutes.
2. Pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until tomatoes start to pop. Press the tomatoes against the side of the pot until they crush, or use a potato masher. (The soup will still be very chunky at this point, so don’t worry if you don’t get all the tomatoes.)
3. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, 1 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper and fresh basil. Cool soup for 10 minutes (or refrigerate at this point for up to 24 hours).
4. Process the soup in small batches in a food processor or blender until desired consistency. Pour back into pot and warm slowly.
5. Once soup is warmed, add cream or milk and grated Parmesan cheese. Continue warming until heated through, but don’t bring to a boil. Season to taste with any additional salt and pepper, if desired.
Although I can’t say first hand since we had no leftovers, I’m thinking this would make a wonderful soup to freeze. If I was going to freeze it, I’d do so after step 3. Then, I’d reheat it before processing and adding the cream. I can’t wait until next summer when we have our own garden. I’ll definitely be making lots of this bisque to fill my freezer so that we can enjoy the fresh taste of summer all year long!