Fire Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
3 (14 ounce) cans of Hunt's fire roasted tomatoes
6 garlic cloves (chopped)
1 yellow onion (diced)
2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian)
1/2 cup half and half (I use 1 cup and last time I used Fat Free)
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (I use less than 1/2 of this because a whole tablespoon makes it too spicy for me or Chuck to eat)
2 ounces olive oil
1/4 cup butter
20 fresh basil leaves (rolled and cut into a chiffonade)
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan
In a heavy pot on medium high heat, pour in the olive oil and saute onion until translucent. Add the chopped garlic (except for 1 clove) and heat with the onion for about four minutes. Next, add the cans of fire roasted tomatoes including the juice to the pan and cover for about 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
With the lid off the pan, add the chicken broth and half & half and bring the pot to a simmer. The mixture should start to thicken as it reduces. This should take about 10 minutes. You want the soup to be somewhat thick. If your soup is a bit thin, let it simmer a bit longer while occasionally stirring. When it comes to the right consistency, add the remaining chopped garlic clove and fresh basil (reserve some for a garnish) and season to taste with salt and pepper, crushed red pepper and butter. Lower your heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes more.
I use an immersion blender because it is so much easier, more effective, and quicker than blending this up in a blender, but you could do that if needed. I just don't recommend using a regular blender. You'll probably burn yourself too. Just a bad idea. Blend mixture until all the big chunks are gone. I like mine to look like a bisque. Then I stir in the Parmesan.
Serve with a small sprinkle of the reserved basil as a garnish.