It’s a cold, blustery day. The perfect day for soup. Digging into my recipe archives, I settle on a family favorite: tomato bisque. A grown-up, tastier version of the old-fashioned tomato soup, it is the perfect comfort food to serve on this winter weekend. And it is incredibly easy to make. Because I have an aversion to tomatoes, I would never have actually made this recipe at first glance. But during a trip to my husband’s family in Colorado back in the early ’90s, my sister-in-law made this delicious soup and introduced me to another side of the nightshade family, one of which I had shied away from. She subsequently sent me a copy of the cookbook as a Christmas gift.
Colorado Cache Cookbook was originally published in 1978, and is now in its 4th edition, with over 25 printings, and almost 1 million copies in print. Who could have known that a labor of love from the Junior League of Denver, originally envisioned as a fundraiser, would be so successful. And surprisingly, there are a fair number of recipes out of this cookbook that get made regularly in my household, like the Rocky Mountain Brisket with Barbecue Sauce, another good winter dish when the outside barbecue is out of commission.
I have adjusted the recipe a bit, as I normally make it in the wintertime when my garden is absent of tomatoes and those in the stores are tasteless and hard. This is easy to prepare and can easily be doubled.
2 – 28 oz. cans diced or crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbs butter
2 bay leaves
3 heaping Tbs brown sugar
4 Tbs finely chopped fresh basil (or 1 Tbs dried)
6 whole cloves
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
Saute onion in butter for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, bay leaves, sugar, basil, cloves, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaves and cloves and puree with hand-held food processor (or puree in blender). Add half-and-half and milk and heat through.
The milk and cream can be adjusted, adding more milk and less cream to obtain a consistency that you prefer.
We had this with grilled cheese sandwiches, made with an earthy sourdough and some mellow havarti. Very nice complement to the soup.