I have to admit, I am not huge fan of tomato soup. I think I just have too many not so fond memories of canned soup from school lunches that it really turned me off of tomato soup. But I knew, I just KNEW that a homemade soup would beat a canned version any day so I set my sights on making a some tomato soup from scratch and I have to say folks…this soup is WAY better than any old canned soup!
If you are a gardener this soup would be a great use for your home canned tomatoes. However you can also use some high quality canned tomatoes too. They key ingredient here really is fresh basil. I grow a pot of herbs year round in my kitchen so it was easy to harvest some for this soup. However, almost all grocery stores these days sell fresh basil in the produce department.
I decided to make this a vegetarian recipe (not vegan) too. I was at first going to use chicken broth as the base of the soup but I had some vegetable broth in the pantry and could not see any reason why I could not use that instead of chicken. If you are not vegetarian you can of course use chicken broth instead. Now mind you there is a half & half and cheese in this recipe. I am sure there are vegan substitutes for both which you could experiment with.
This is a recipe you can set up in the morning and cook all day. Then about 1/2 an hour before you are ready to serve add the half & half and let it cook a little bit longer. We served our soup with some lovely grilled Mozzarella & Parmesan cheese panini sandwiches. Which we perfect for dipping in the soup. YUM!