Tomato Basil Soup Recipe: An Easy Winter Meal

Chilly winter months are the perfect time to whip-up a batch of tomato basil soup. This tomato basil soup pairs well with a grilled cheese, too.

At last weekend’s L.A. style+photo workshop, I whipped up a quick batch of this cream of tomato basil soup for our attendees. They were able to capture the cooking process and style their bowls, too. After all, the best part of a food photoshoot is actually eating the food.

This tomato basil soup pairs wonderfully with a grilled cheese. At the workshop we made grilled cheeses with fig and prosciutto, but any sort of grilled cheese would be perfect. Use whatever is in your fridge and embrace an opportunity to be creative with it! There’s no such thing as a bad grilled cheese.

I love soup during chilly months, and since according to the groundhog, there is still a lot of winter ahead of us, store this recipe in your arsenal to pull out when you need a quick and easy lunch or dinner.

Cream of Tomato Basil Soup
Serves 8
You will need:
– 1/2 medium onion sliced thin
– 3 tablespoons butter
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 teaspoon salt
 – 1/2 teaspoon pepper
– 2  28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
– 4 cups vegetable stock
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 1 cup fresh basil chopped
To prepare:
In a large stock pot, heat butter and oil, add onions, salt and pepper.
Sauté until onions are lightly caramelized. Add tomatoes, vegetable stock, cream and basil. Simmer for 45 minutes. Garnish with basil. Serve warm.
Note: The soup may be made creamy by placing it in a blender or using a hand blender if desired. I personally like it a little chunky.
Enjoy!
xx, Annette
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Mulled Wine Poached Pears

Mulled Wine Poached Pears

I love the idea of poached fruit. It is, in fact, a little trick I use when I don’t want to make a complicated dessert, yet I want something sophisticated. It is so easy to just grab apples or pears and poach them in wine, something I always have on had.

These mulled wine poached pears are the perfect classic dessert for fall and winter. Your guests will be impressed with the presentation. The flavor is subtle and light which after a heavy meal can be just the perfect finish.

Mulled Wine Poached Pears
Serves 8

You will need:
– 8 pears
– 1 bottle of Red Wine (I like to use a Merlot, or a Pinot Noir)
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 3 star anise
– 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons sugar

Poached Pears

To prepare:

Peel the whole pears leaving the stem in tact.

In a large cast iron pot, empty the bottle of wine, add the sugar, cinnamon, star anise.

Place the peeled pears on their side, then simmer them in the wine for about 15 minutes, occasionally with a large spoon roll the pears to evenly cook them. Turn off the heat, and leave the pears to macerate in the wine (this literally can be all day). Again occasionally turning them to evenly coat the pears. The pears will become a beautiful pink color from the mulled red wine.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, add the whipping cream and sugar whip until stiff peaks form about 5 minutes.

To serve:

Warm the pears through about 3 minutes and place the warm pears in a bowl with 3 tablespoons of the mulled wine. Add a dollop of whipped cream and serve.

TIP* it’s the perfect make ahead dessert, and it will impress you’re guests.

 

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Easy Appetizer:: Eggplant Camponata

 

If you planted eggplant this year, I am sure your garden is absolutely brimming with them. If it is, I’ve got the perfect recipe for you: Eggplant Camponata. Camponata is one of my favorite, stand by appetizers. It’s creamy, spicy, salty, and of course, eggplant-y. It’s divine.

I like to serve mine with thin crackers or flatbread, along with arugula and grape tomatoes. Plate it all with a touch of grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of the best olive oil you have. Enjoy!

Eggplant Camponata

You will need:

– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 small red onion, finely chopped
– 4 cloves of garlic, crushed or coarsely chopped
– 4 cups of cubed eggplant, skin on (1″ cubes)
– 1 cup chopped tomatoes
– 1 cup chopped fresh basil
– 1/4 cup capers
– 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
– 1/2 cup tomato sauce (from a jar is fine, unless you have homemade hanging around)
– 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
– salt and pepper to taste
– Parmesan cheese for garnish
– Crispy crackers for flat bread.

To prepare:

In a large pan, saute chopped onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add all other ingredients, except Parmesan cheese. Cover and stir frequently, so camponata does not stick. Saute on low heat until combined and soft, about 30-40 minutes.

Serve as a warm appetizer on crisp crackers and plate with arugula and tomatoes. Enjoy alongside cold white or sparkling wine with friends.

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