Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

I'm no stranger to stews, but soups, well, they can be a little intimidating.
Stews can be chunky, and you can just throw stuff in the pot and let it simmer long enough so that all the flavors blend. But in general, soup should be silky and smooth and have no chunks.

The first time I made tomato basil soup, I didn't strain out the tomato chunks and I was sorry for it. This time, I had learned my lesson and the result was a creamy, silky smooth soup with lots of flavor (and no chunks!).

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 can diced or crushed tomato (28 oz)
2 cups chicken broth
2-3 tbsp chopped basil
1/2 cup heavy cream or half&half
salt to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil.
Add the tomato and basil and simmer for a few minutes.
Add the chicken broth and simmer for another 5-6 minutes.
Remove from heat, and strain the soup through a sieve.
Add cream to strained soup and season with salt to taste.
Serve with basil garnish.

Note: don't throw away that tomato left in your strainer. You can use it as a sauce for pasta or as a dip for calzones.
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Reese's Pieces Cookies

What a big difference there is in taste between homemade cookies and store-bought refrigerated cookie dough! I am guilty of buying pre-made dough for convenience, but you can't beat the taste of homemade cookies (when you don't confuse baking powder for baking soda in the recipe - I am also guilty of this).

This is a quick and easy recipe for homemade cookies. You can certainly substitute chocolate chips, M&Ms or whatever else your heart may desire, but I used Mini Reese's Pieces this time.

Basic Cookie Dough

1/2 cup butter
1/4 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/4 c AP flour (you could use half AP flour and half whole wheat pastry flour if you want to feel just a little better about eating cookies)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cream butter and sugar with a mixer till fluffy.
Add egg and vanilla extract and mix well.
In another bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.
Mix flour mixture into butter mixture.
Add 1 cup chocolate chips, crumbled toffee, M&Ms, or whatever else you want.
Bake 10-12 minutes.
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