Tomato bisque is one of those hearty soups you would eat on a cold day with a grilled cheese sandwich, or better yet, toasted sprouted bread or a crusty baguette. I started making this delicious soup as a slightly lighter and more economical way of enjoying a dish my husband and I frequently ordered from a French bistro down the street. Kevin and I loved going to this little bistro, simply to get their famous tomato basil soup. Well, now that I make it at home, it has become a hit with my family, as well as with some of my friends.
6 tablespoons organic Butter
1 yellow Onion
2 Celery stalks
4 large Garlic cloves
5 fresh Thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon fresh Oregano – chopped
3 tablespoons Italian Parsley – chopped
4 tablespoons sweet Basil – chopped
2 tablespoons Tomato paste
1 cup Tomato sauce
1/2 cup Sherry – Medium
2 teaspoons Sugar
4 cups Chicken Broth – preferably homemade*
1 1/2 cups heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper – freshly ground
*If you choose to make your own chicken stock, please refer to the STOCK recipe portion of the “Everyday Chicken Soup” post for instructions. Otherwise, I highly suggest using an organic chicken stock in a carton, NOT a can.
Start by chopping the onion, celery stalks, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, and all the fresh herbs; you may, however, leave the thyme whole on the sprigs, as you will remove the sprigs later after the soup is done cooking. Don’t worry about finely chopping everything, because it is all going to be blended or puréed at the end. A rough chop is just fine.
In a large dutch oven or pan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat, and add the chopped onions, carrots, and celery. After they are translucent, add the chopped garlic, tomatoes, the fresh thyme sprigs, oregano, Italian parsley, and half the sweet basil with the salt and pepper, and let sauté for a few minutes. Now add the tomato paste and the sugar. Deglaze the pan with the sherry. When most of the sherry has reduced, add the tomato sauce and the chicken stock. If you do not want to add chicken stock or don’t have any, you may substitute vegetable stock or water. Cover and allow to cook / simmer for 30 – 45 minutes on low heat. Turn off the heat and add the remaining half of the basil. Remove the thyme sprigs from the soup. If some thyme is still attached to the sprigs, scrape it off into the soup.
In a good blender, ladle the soup gently and purée until it is completely smooth. Place back in the dutch oven over low heat and add the heavy cream. Stir until all the cream is incorporated in the soup, then turn the heat off and add the last 3 tablespoons of butter in 1 tablespoon pieces. Stir in gently. Taste the velvety bisque and determine if it needs any more seasoning. If so, season with salt to your liking. Serve and enjoy. Bon appétit!