ITALIAN TOMATO AND SPINACH SOUP

There are I believe, 2 or 3 tomato soup recipes on this blog....one of my favorite soups!
Recently we had dinner at a local gluten free restaurant that served one of the best Italian tomato soups I have ever had.  It was rich, full of flavor, and tasted almost like an Italian marinara soup.  I started asking questions about the soup....the only seasonings they would share with me was basil and oregano.  I could not taste the oregano at all, and was a bit stumped as to what exactly was in this soup.  They also served it with chunks of feta cheese in the bowl of soup.
Well, I decided to create my own Italian Tomato Spinach Soup Recipe.  Of course, this is a soup that would be even better in the height of summer...but for me, tomato soup is a craving all year round.   Like other tomato soup recipes on this blog, it begins with roasted garlic and tomatoes.  Homemade chicken stock is a must here.  Although not quite the same as the restaurant's soup, it was still mighty tasty.  We had this with Gluten Free Toasted Parmesan Cheese Garlic Baguette (Baguette by Udi's)
16 ripe medium to large sized tomatoes
1 whole bulb of garlic, split into cloves, skin on
drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp. dried Basil
salt and fresh cracked pepper
Cut the tomatoes into quarters and then cut again - about 2 inch pieces and add to a roasting pan.  Add the whole bulb of garlic cloves, add seasonings, salt and pepper with a drizzle of EVOO to lightly coat. Toss to combine, and roast in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Remove the skins from the garlic, scrape up any brown bits in the pan and transfer to a good sized bowl.  I used a stick blender to puree the mixture well.  Refrigerate.
3 cups homemade chicken stock
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 &  1/2 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt and pepper
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. ground fennel
1  28 gram package of fresh basil, finely minced (about 1/2 cup firmly packed)
fresh baby spinach
freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
In a good sized saute pan, drizzle the EVOO and place on low medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, dried basil, and ground fennel.  Saute about 5 minutes to sweat out.
Add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer, lid on and cook about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Remove from the heat, and allow to sit at least 15 minutes to start to cool down.  Add the pureed tomatoes and garlic, then with a stick blender puree the vegetables.   Add fresh chopped basil and bring back to a light simmer.  To serve, add a small handful of fresh baby spinach to the bottom of your bowl, ladle in the hot soup and top with grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese.
Parmesan Cheese Garlic Bread:
2 Udi's French Baguettes sliced length wise
2 finely minced garlic cloves
1 Tblsp. finely minced Italian flat leaf parsley
4 Tblsp. butter
Add butter to a sauce pan and add in the finely minced garlic.  Keep on a very low simmer for about 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let sit about 5 minutes.  Add in the finely minced parsley stirring to mix.
Toast the Baguettes under the broiler until golden.  Remove from the oven and brush on the garlic parsley butter.  Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, then return to the oven, just to melt the cheese.
Serve with your favorite soup.

Ina Gawne
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May 13, 2015
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