Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup:

Poor IZ is sick. He’s still plugging away at work (the joys of working at home) but I’ve been taking up the cooking duties for the past few days. Monday, I did this dish on the side of the couscous box that was a hit. Hardly “cooking” as much as following directions. But I did add my own twist of walnuts and myzithra cheese—hanging out with IZ in the kitchen has clearly rubbed off on me.

But yesterday, he was feeling so poorly, I knew a “Chicken With” meal wasn’t going to cut it. “How about soup?” And with a snuffled nod we were on.

Now, I have a history with soup. I don’t make it. Ever.  Not after a disastrous encounter with homemade acorn squash soup in 2007. How bad was it?  Not even IZ could muster a pity bowl and he’s got a cast iron gag reflex. My child was not so diplomatic: “WHAT IS THIS . . . STUFF?! This is horrible. The worst soup ever. What are doing to us, MOM?”  Or something to that effect because I remember promptly ordering a pizza and calling it quits. It was that bad. That night we  all made a silent deal between us: the only soup Wende would be making from here on out was reheating IZ’s leftovers. Done!

That should give you some indication how sick IZ is presently.

I started with this recipe from 365 Days of Slow Cooking but then got serious about the modifications (though, it’s still plenty fattening). I’m sorry, but I blanch at two cups of half and half. SERIOUSLY? Um, no.  So, I modified and tested  and modified some more and served. . . and my teenager, who hates all things tomato, ate two servings. “Brilliant and thank you!”

I’m not sure what I’m more excited about. . . that I made soup or that the 15 year old said, “You can make this again.”  His father seemed equally pleased. He’s still sick, so this soup won’t cure all that ails you. But, it comes pretty darn close.

Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

You’ll need: Crock Pot, Blender, Sauce Pan, Small Pot, and a bowl for transferring soup.

Step One Ingredients:

1 cup of diced carrots

1 cup of diced onion

1 cup of diced celery

2 14.5 oz cans of canned tomatoes and their juice (crushed or cut will work)

32 oz  of chicken broth (I use the Organic free range brand from Safeway)

1 ts Oregano

2 Tb Walnut Pesto (If you don’t have pesto on hand, you can sub in fresh [1/4 cup] or dried [1 Tb] basil)

Place these ingredients in a crock pot and set to cook for 5-7 hours. I cooked mine for 5.5 on high. But if you’re going to be gone all day, set it at a lower temperature for a longer time.

Once the vegetables are soft, run them through a blender. Once blended put the soup back into the crock pot.

Step Two Ingredients:

1 stick of butter

1/2 cup of flour

1 cup of milk

1 cup of half and half

1 cup of parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste.

In a sauce pan create a roux by melting the butter on low and then adding in the flour. Whisk for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the milk and half and half and gently warm on the stove or your microwave.  Mix in a cup of the soup into the saucepan with the roux and mix until blended. It’s going to thicken quickly. Then add another 3 cups of the soup, mix and transfer back into the crock pot with the rest of the soup. Add the parmesan.* Mix well and then, blend again in your blender.

Finally transfer the soup back into the crock pot and season to taste. I use a lovely herb salt from Provence. And set your crock pot to cook for another 30 minutes.

Top with a touch of extra Parmesan to serve. Makes 6 very generous servings.

*You can also add the cheese to the soup after the last blend. . . but it will make the soup “cheesy”. So, it depends on how you like the texture.