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Simple Cooking: Tomato Basil Soup for Basil Lovers

By Caitlin Klein in Food on Jul 27, 2011 7:20PM

Hi-o, basil freaks. It's fresh basil season here in Chicago, and this is a great one. Basil plants love this humid, hot weather we've been having, so even if you aren't growing some at home, copious fresh basil is popping up at grocery stores and farmers' markets across the city.

When buying basil, it's best to look for leaves that are still attached to the stem. Leaves that have already been cut away will brown much faster, shortening the usable life of your basil, even if you keep it in the fridge. If you need tips on how to chop the leaves, we've got them for you. So what do you say, would you like a little tomato soup with those basil leaves? Here's a chunky summer-soup recipe that will bring out the best of this season's basil harvest.

Chicagoist's Tomato Basil Soup for Basil Lovers (Serves 6)

1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 T olive oil
14.5 ounces beef broth (vegetable broth for you vegetarians)
28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
28 ounces canned diced tomatoes (substitute 3 large chopped fresh tomatoes if you've got 'em)
3 tablespoons fresh thyme
3 cups fresh basil, chopped
Salt & Pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Meatballs (optional)

Heat olive oil in the soup pot over medium heat. Saute onions until they are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté another 3-4 minutes. Add the beef broth and bring up to a simmer. Add the crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes. Heat the soup on medium until it begins to bubble, then bring down to a simmer.

15 minutes before serving, add the fresh thyme and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with basil leaves for garnish and top with parmesan cheese, if desired. If there’s a dedicated meat-eater in your life, he or she might appreciate a meatball addition. Just sayin’.

Enjoy the summer and use up that fresh basil while you can!