When I lived in Michigan, I worked at a bread store that also served soups for lunch, and tomato basil soup was one of my favorites. Especially with a crusty, buttered piece of toast to dip in it. Over the years I tried to replicate the recipe, and I even came close a few times. It was not until I found Nourishing Traditions that I learned the real secrets to the depth of flavor.
But I’ll tell you what really pushes this recipe over the top: serving it with grilled turkey, ham, and cheese sandwiches. You will die and go to Savory Heaven. You’ve been warned!
Monosodium Glutamate and Canned Soup: Canned soup typically contains monosodium glutamate (MSG), vegetable oils like cottonseed, soybean, canola, safflower or sunflower (cheap, rancid byproducts of Big Ag), high fructose corn syrup, citric acid (code for MSG), autolyzed yeast (yet another kind of MSG), cheap iodized salt, thickeners, and if you’re lucky: natural flavors (let’s all say it together: MSG).
MSG is a problem, if not for the reason that it is referred to as an “excitotoxin”. Yikes. I steer clear of MSG as much as possible. I have even noticed that after I eat MSG, I will get lightheaded or come down with a headache. Perhaps your body can handle MSG and you don’t get those symptoms; MSG is still an ingredient to avoid.
Now that I know about the ingredients in canned soup, I am happy to make my own. Since I am in the habit of making my own stocks, I can usually throw a soup together in a few minutes. This tomato basil soup is no exception!
So What’s the Secret? The homemade chicken stock. Well, that and the cheese. The balance of flavor in a soup is sometimes tricky to strike. In this case, the cheese gives a salty depth of flavor without relying on only salt. And the chicken stock gives a savory richness to compliment the acidity of the tomatoes. The cool cream and milk make the finished product smooth and velvety. And the different aspects: the chopped basil, parmesan curls, and crusty bread really round out the texture.
Ultimate Tomato Basil Soup
4 cups chicken stock (how to make chicken stock)
3 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons honey OR 2 tablespoons whole cane sugar (buy raw honey here, whole cane sugar here)
sea salt and pepper to taste (buy organic spices here)
1 tablespoon garlic powder (buy organic spices here)
1 tablespoon onion powder (buy organic spices here)
1 tablespoon dried basil (or a handful of chopped fresh basil) (buy organic spices here)
1 tablespoon dried parsley (or a handful of chopped fresh parsley) (buy organic spices here)
1 tablespoon dried oregano (buy organic spices here)
2 tablespoons butter (buy grass-fed butter here)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (buy grass-fed cheese here)
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese (buy grass-fed cheese here)
1 cup cream (find organic, grass-fed dairy near you here)
1 cup whole milk (find organic, grass-fed dairy near you here)
fresh, chopped basil
parmesan cheese curls, cut with a knife or cheese slicer
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together chicken stock, tomato sauce, tomato paste, honey OR whole cane sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano, and parsley. Warm up over medium-high heat until the soup begins to simmer.
- Turn off the heat and add the butter, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely melted. Add the cheddar cheese in handfuls, stirring between each addition. Repeat the process with the parmesan cheese.
- Taste the soup and make adjustments in flavoring as needed. Add the milk and cream, stirring to combine.
- Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with chopped basil and parmesan curls. Serve with toasted, buttered sourdough bread.