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Tomato Basil Soup with bacon
This is Dr. Gray Bailey's recipe. To speed it up, use an immersion blender.
2 slices thick cut bacon, in 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
a dozen or more homegrown tomatoes or 2 big cans of tomatoes
5-6 leaves basil
2 cups chicken broth
cajun seasoning to taste
1 cup whipping cream
In a large pot or dutch oven, fry the bacon. When it's done, set it aside on paper towels and then cook the onions in the drippings over medium heat until the onions are soft - 5 minutes or so. If you want the chunks of onions in the soup, remove them and set aside with the bacon. If you'd like them pureed with the tomatoes, leave them in the pot.
If you're using canned tomatoes that are already peeled, dump them all in the pot. Break them up a little with your spoon. Add the basil and chicken broth. Season to taste. Blend with an immersion blender or pour into a regular blender in batches and blend until smooth. Let simmer over low heat for about an hour. When it's nice and thick, stir in the whipping cream and let simmer on low for a few minutes, stirring gently to incorporate. Add the bacon back in, serve with shredded cheese if you like.
If you're using fresh tomatoes, cut the tops off the tomatoes and put them in the pot. Add 1/2 cup water to the pot and let the tomatoes simmer on low, covered, for about 30 minutes. Using your spoon, break up the tomatoes a little and see if you can remove the skins. Try to get as much tomato skin out as possible. Add the chicken broth, then use the immersion blender to smooth it all out. Add the basil and cajun seasoning to taste and let simmer another 30 minutes. (NOTE: This is how Dr. Bailey does it to avoid using the oven. I like to put all the tomatoes and onions in a roasting pan with a touch of olive oil and roast them at 400 degrees for an hour. Then, pull the skins off and put everything in a pot to blend together with the stick blender. Either method is fine.) After simmering, check the seasoning. Stir in the cream, add the bacon (and onions if you didn't blend them in), let simmer for another 5 minutes on low, check your seasoning again, then serve with shredded cheese.