Vegetarian Tomato Bisque

In Philadelphia, spring time weather means drastic changes in temperature daily (30s to 60s and back again) with a lot of rain, that comes with either unbearable humidity or a biting wind. I tend to cook based on the weather (really), so I oscillate between wanting light, fresh salads and hot and heavy comfort food. The change in weather also usually brings allergies and colds, which of course Merle now has. To make her feel better from the inside out, I cooked a big pot of tomato bisque for the week. It's not the healthiest soup (certainly not as healthy as my upgraded tomato soup), but it tastes so good and it feels like being wrapped up in a fluffy blanket on the inside, in the best way possible. If you like the tomato basil soup at places like Cosi, Panera, etc, then you will love this! It's a perfect match to my grilled cheese, but the soup can be a meal by itself. This version is vegetarian, but it could easily be made vegan by swapping out the butter with Earth Balance or olive oil and omitting the milk. I made the soup both with and without milk and both options were delicious. I thought the soup was creamy enough without the milk, but I added in the option in case you prefer truly cream-y soup.

The star of the show

Tomato Bisque
Adapted from Tyler Florence's recipe 

Serves 6

5 Tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup whole milk (optional)

Melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook until the mirepoix begins to soften, about 8 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, broth, and spices. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to break apart the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

Play hide and seek with the bay leaf. Once you find it, remove it from the pot. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup until smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender, transfer the soup in batches to a blender (the Magic Bullet also works great). For an extra creamy soup, stir whole milk into the purée.

Look at that beauty! This is with milk drizzled in

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