Tomato-Pesto Soup in a Cheesy Bread Bowl

I had a strong craving at about four today at work: I just couldn’t live another day without making a creamy tomato and pesto soup. Before I was about to just die from being deprived of tomato-basil-Italian-smoothness, I received a text that BF was at the grocery store. I think I called upon my primitive instincts as I don’t remember responding. All I know is that when I got home, as if by magic, I had the ingredients for a completely off the hip recipe for tomato pesto soup. And if my day couldn’t get any better (and my day can always get better), I also had on hand the necessaries to put together a quick cheese cracker with bold rosemary, cheddar, and Parmesan flavors – (I’ll share the recipe tomorrow, promise) This tomato-basil soup recipe is perfect when you want something homemade, warm, and just a bit decadent that will be ready in 45 minutes.

For the tomato-pesto soup, you will need:

  • 3/4 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tsp. each salt, pepper, and dried parsley
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 x 15 ounce cans of diced tomatoes (either plain or Italian), undrained
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 cups chicken broth (or equivalent with bouillon cubes and water)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup half and half
  • 1/3 cup pesto
  • 1/3 cup mozzarella

Method:

  • In a large pot on medium heat, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil. Stir in the salt, pepper, parsley and oregano. Cook for three or four minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes (do not drain!), fresh basil, bay leaves, broth/bouillon plus water, and balsamic vinegar. Stir together to combine. Cover the pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the bay leaves (this part is where things could have gone south – I couldn’t find the third bay leaf! With all of the green leafy seasonings in the pot, I was pretty nervous that I was about to play a game of dinner roulette. Luckily, it hasn’t turned up yet…)
  • Add the remaining ingredients and cook on low for five to ten more minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
  • Blend about 2/3 of the mixture to smooth out the textures prior to serving. I have an immersion blender,and when it came time to use it, BF all of a sudden became very interested in the, and I quote, “cooking power tools.” So I let him do the “manly” blending, bless-his-heart.


To serve:
I had enough rolls on hand to give the soup the stellar, but not over-the-top, presentation that a creamy delight deserves. First, preheat your oven to 350. Then hollow out a tall, hard roll as much as possible without damaging the bottom and sides (and if you do, it’s totally okay – just break up the rest of the roll and drizzle with olive oil, rosemary, oregano, and sea salt and add “homemade croutons” to your soup’s resume). The roll will look like this:


Then bake it at 350 for about five minutes, which is just enough time to heat it through and add a tiny crunch, but the inside will remain fairly soft and absorbent. Add one slice of mozzarella to the bottom of the roll and return to the oven for two minutes, until the cheese is slightly bubbly:


Now just ladle in your soup, and look at what that seven minutes exercise does for your presentation! If only I could transform my hair that quickly in the morning…


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