Time: Approx. 90 min.
Yield: 8 cups; serves 4-6
1 Tbs. olive oil1 medium onion, chopped
6-8 sprigs of fresh basil
4 lbs. ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded & chopped
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
Salt & Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1. To peel the tomatoes, slightly score the base of each tomato with an X. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and plunge the tomatoes into the water for 10-15 seconds. Remove the tomatoes and set aside until cook enough to handle. The skins will slip off easily. Seed the tomatoes by cutting them in half along their equator and gently squeeze. Chop them and set aside in a bowl.
2. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (about 7 minutes). Tie the basil sprigs together with a piece of kitchen twine. Add to the onions the basil sprigs, tomatoes, chicken broth, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced by one-quarter (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat & let cool for about 20 min. Remove the basil sprigs.
3. In a blender, puree the soup in 2-3 batches until very smooth, at least two minutes per batch. Place each blended batch into a large bowl. *Take extra care as the soup will still be quite hot while blending. Transfer all the soup back into the soup pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in cream and balsamic vinegar and remove from heat immediately. Taste and add salt & pepper, if needed.
4. Just before serving, cut the fresh basil leaves into thin strips. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with cut basil.