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What do you think of when you think of tomato soup? A lot of people think of the canned kind, as it seems like too much of a hassle to make tomato soup from scratch. We’re here to tell you: you can do it! And it’ll be amazing, just you wait and see. The recipe below is one Tessa created when she ran her own catering business before starting Söntés. A similar version was on the menu recently, and met with rave reviews. So, read on, then go make some for yourself!

Smoky Tomato Basil Soup

Serves 6

12 oz. apple wood smoked bacon, chopped and fried until crisp
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 lg. red pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 lbs. red tomatoes, core quarted and seeds removed
1 c. heavy whipping cream or whole milk
1/2 c. water or more

3 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 T. fresh basil, sliced
12 cherry tomatoes, quartered (or any sweet tomatoes you really love)
1/4 c. gruyere cheese, grated (Can be any cheese you like. Or try one of my favorites: finish it with brie or camberet under the broiler for a rich and delicious topping.)
2 T. fresh chives, chopped (optional, but very beautiful)

Saute bacon until crisp. Reserve half in the pan with appox 2 T. of the bacon grease. Drain and reserve the other half for garnish. Add onion and pepper and saute until soft. Add garlic and saute garlic. Reduce heat to medium and add tomatoes cook until juice from tomatoes form and are tender (about 8 minutes). Add cream and water, reduce to low and simmer until tomatoes are very soft (about 10 minutes). Puree soup in batches in blender until smooth. Return to pan and season with salt and pepper. If too thick, add some more water. Mix in olive oil and sliced basil. Garnish with bacon, cheese, tomatoes,and chives.

If you don’t have great fresh tomatoes, feel free to substitute your favorite canned variety.

Vegetarian Version:

Omit the bacon and saute the onion and pepper in olive oil until soft. Follow the remaining directions. After returning the puree to the pan, add smoked paprika (Spanish pimenton) to taste. This creates an almost identical taste to the applewood smoked bacon—and it’s admittedly much healthier!