TUSCAN TOMATO SOUP (for six)
6 to 8 slices French bread, each 1 inch thick
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded, then diced
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock, or commercial low sodium broth
½ cup finely chopped basil leaves, for garnish
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1.Preheat the oven to 350*. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, turning once, 10 to 15 minutes total. Set aside.
2. In a large soup pot over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and saute, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until softened, but not browned, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and stock, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook until the tomatoes are softened, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat.
3. Using an immersion or standing blender, puree the soup, leaving a little bit of texture if desired. Return the soup to the pot, if needed, and reheat gently over medium heat. Add the chopped basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, place a slice of toasted bread in the bottom of each warmed bowl and sprinkle with a spoonful of Parmesan cheese. Ladle the soup on top, garnish with a basil leaf, and serve at once.