I have been trying to find a tomato soup recipe that I love for...forever. I have tried canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, roasted, sun dried, etc etc. Always disappointed. Always. I do love the tomato basil soup at Café Zupas and there are lots of recipes out there that say their recipe tastes the same, and then they don't, and I cry into my bowl of soup. I had given up, admitted defeat. No more botched attempts for this lady.
Then one day my mom sent me a link to this video. It is a Café Zupas chef making the soup. Sure he's making a huge vat of soup, sure they don't give you any portions or even tell you what he is doing...but I was excited, really excited. With my mom on her computer at her house and me at my computer, both on our cell phones, we watched the video over and over, pausing, starting over..."what is that? Those are almonds...aren't they??". Once we knew all the ingredients it was only a matter of portions. Our first attempt was pretty good, but still not right, but the second attempt...OHHHH the second attempt. I cried into my bowl of soup, but this time, they were tears of triumph and joy!
Do you want to know what the real secret to this soup is? It's not the tomato part, it's the basil part. It's the PESTO part. It should really be called Tomato Pesto soup, or maybe even Pesto with Tomatoes soup.
You want to start with LOTS of Basil. None of this 1-2 tbls of basil crap. You need 2 cups or a 4oz container of basil. Now that's some basil. Wash it and dry it.
To dry it, I spread the leaves out on a towel and then roll them up in the towel. Squeeze them and then unroll them.
1 cup slivered almonds. 1 cup parmesan cheese.
5 cloves of garlic. 1 1/2 cups olive oil. 2 tsp salt.
Add to a blender or food processor.
Blend together into a delicious beautiful pesto. I could eat pesto with a spoon. Set this aside for now.
Most good soups start with butter and onions. This one is the same, we are going to use some celery as well.
6-7 stalks of celery - diced. 2 medium onions - diced.
Throw them into a large pan (we are using a pressure cooker) with 3/4 cup butter and 2 tsp dried oregano. Saute until the onions are transparent. Don't let them get brown. Your house smells awesome already!
Add your pesto to the veggies and then add 4 quarts of bottled tomatoes or 5 cans of stewed (un-seasoned) tomatoes. (These tomatoes are from my mom's garden, so they are especially delicious) We also added a small amount of sugar to cut some of the acid. You could also add a bit more salt (1 tsp or so) if you think you need it.
At this point, your soup is more green than red. This is good. This is FLAVOR!
We used a pressure cooker and cooked for 4 minutes. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can put everything into a crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours. I know this seems like a really long time, but it will allow your tomatoes to cook down into the pesto and veggies and become the beautiful red-orange color you expect from a tomato soup. The pressure cooker just speeds up the process.
(If you decide to use a pressure cooker, PLEASE follow the directions that come with it. Pressure cookers can be very dangerous if not used correctly...like removing the lid before the pressure has come down after cooking. I'm talking about big BOOM...scalding soup everywhere...if you know what I mean.)
Once your soup has finished cooking, add 1 quart of heavy cream, stir and eat. Try not to cry into your soup.