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Tomato Basil Soup with Goat Cheese

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Heading into the summer season, I know we all find an abundant amount of tomatoes at our farmer markets, grocery stores and hopefully in the not too distant future, our gardens.

This soup from My Gourmet Connection was delicious! Even though it's not a cold soup, the tomato and basil combination really scream summer to me.  It was light, but yet filling at the same time. Who wants to be all bloated and puffy in swimsuit weather, right?!

Basil, goat cheese and balsamic vinegar are always a winning combination in my book. Back in college (Elon University) we used to go to dinner occasionally at a restaurant called B. Christopher's. They had this amazing appetizer with goat cheese and balsamic in puff pastry over spinach. I think that's when I first really fell in love with the goat cheese & balsamic combination. This soup brought me right back there.

This was easy to make and the flavor was amazing - producing a soup that tasted like it had been cooking all day long. Definitely a winner in my book.

A few notes:
- If you can, USE fresh tomatoes. You can never beat the flavor of fresh, ripe tomatoes.
- Don't skimp on the garnishes! Do each one!
- I added a generous pinch of both crushed red pepper flakes and sugar for some added heat and just the tiniest bit of extra sweetness. I'd recommend doing the same.
- I also added an extra garlic cloves and probably another half a tablespoon of pine nuts. What can I say, we love flavor in this house!
- Be careful when toasting up the pine nuts - I found they burned very easily and went through 2 pans due to messing around with the Little One and them browning (or blackening in my case) very fast before toasting them to just a golden brown!
- If you have extra time, reduce down the balsamic vinegar for the tomato slices, so that it gets thick and syrupy. This makes the tomato topping all the better!
- This calls for some delicious, toasted garlic bread if you aren't watching your calories :)

Tomato Basil Soup with Goat Cheese

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 can (28-ounce) diced tomatoes, undrained or 3 cups of diced fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
6 large fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup water (optional)
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Garnishes:

Broiled tomato slices (see below)
Crumbled goat cheese
Basil sprigs

Melt the butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent and the garlic tender, but not browned. Add the salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

Add the tomatoes, along with their liquid and bring the mixture to a slow simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the milk and goat cheese and continue cooking until the cheese has melted. Add the basil and stir until wilted.

Using a hand-held immersion blender (or conventional blender), purée the mixture until smooth. Add the water to thin slightly if desired, stir in the pine nuts and keep warm until served.


Makes 4-1/2 cups

*To make the garnish, preheat the broiler. Slice 1 or 2 medium tomatoes into 3/8-inch thick slices (you'll need one slice for each serving). Arrange them in a single layer on a foil-lined broiler pan.

Drizzle each slice with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Broil 2 inches from the heat until lightly browned and soft (watch them carefully). Remove from the broiler and top each with 1 teaspoon of goat cheese.


Return to the broiler for 1 minute.

Float one cheese-topped slice of tomato in each bowl of soup, garnish with a fresh basil sprig and serve.

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