Tomato Basil Soup with Orzo

Roasted Tomato Basil SoupI LOVE tomato soup and always have, but I had never had tomato basil soup until moving to Salt Lake City.  Probably because Arizona and southern California seldom get cold enough to truly enjoy a hot cup of soup with a sandwich.  It was my first year working in SLC and my third grade teaching team planned to take me to lunch for my birthday.  The only problem was that a storm was coming that was going to be a white-out.  Exciting stuff, if you would’ve asked me.  Enough snow that you couldn’t see a three feet in front of you?  Awesome!  And everyone being forced to leave work early to get home?  Double bonus!  The girls took me to a little mom and pop cafe that was known for its soups and sandwiches.  I had tomato basil soup as per Jessica’s suggestion.  Mmmmm…It was amazing.  Naturally, the weather helped to make it even more perfect.  Sadly, they closed the store but I was able to satisfy my craving after discovering Cafe Zupas.

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup2Man oh man, I can’t say enough about Cafe Zupa’s either.  One thing I love that they do is offer to add orzo pasta to your tomato soup.  I wasn’t too sure, but after trying it, it’s kinda hard to go back.  It adds a little texture to the soup and makes it even more delicious.  I like to cook it in chicken broth so that the pasta soaks up some of that chicken flavor.  During one of my days off I selfishly took the kids to the daycare anyway, went and got a massage, followed it up with a soup and sandwich combo at Cafe Zupas (a slow, quiet lunch while reading my Kindle and occasionally looking up at the snow covered Wasatch front) and then took a nap.  It was an amazing day.

Tomato Basil Soup

IngredientsRoasted Tomato Soup3

  • 3 pounds roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes with juice
  • 4 cups packed fresh basil leaves, chopped plus a tad for garnish (optional)
  • 6 cups chicken broth or stock, divided
  • 1 box orzo pasta

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss tomatoes with olive oil, salt & pepper.  Spread the tomatoes on a baking sheet cut side up and roast for 45 minutes.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter.  Sauté the onions, garlic & red pepper flakes for about ten minutes or until onions start to brown.
  3. Add canned tomatoes, basil and 4 cups of chicken broth.  Add the oven-raosted tomatoes, with the liquid from the baking sheet.  Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes.
  4. Boil 2 cups of chicken broth with 2 cups of water in a small saucepan.  (You can even use Caldo de Pollo or other chicken bouillon) Add orzo and cook according to package instructions  (about 9 minutes) and strain, set aside.
  5. Use an immersion blender to blend soup to desired consistency or blend in a blender in small batches.
  6. Serve soup with a scoop of orzo and a sprinkle of fresh basil.

Recipe slightly adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

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