A heartwarming cup of a classic wintry soup is a fitting addition to the savories course of a seasonal afternoon tea. Add a touch of holiday whimsy by topping each serving with a homemade star-shaped crouton.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup sliced shallot
- 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- Garnish: Star Croutons (recipe follows)
- In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until oil shimmers. Add shallot, stirring and cooking, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and cook shallot until tender, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, crushing coarsely with a potato masher or large spoon. Stir in basil, salt, and pepper. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat, and cover pan with lid slightly ajar until soup simmers gently. Cook soup, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat. Add cream and sugar. Using an immersion blender, blend soup until very creamy. (Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.)
- Garnish individual servings with Star Croutons, if desired.
- 3 slices firm white sandwich bread, frozen
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- ⅛ teaspoon sandwich seasoning*
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Using a 1½-inch star-shaped cutter, cut 12 stars from frozen bread slices, discarding scraps.
- Gently toss bread stars in melted butter, covering evenly.
- Lay bread stars in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sandwich seasoning. Bake until bread stars are lightly browned and evenly crisp, 7 to 10 minutes, flipping bread stars halfway through baking time. Let cool completely.
Although we used white sandwich bread, homemade croutons are simple to make with virtually any type of bread. We used a 1½-inch cutter shaped like a star, but other festive designs, such as trees, Santas, and angels, would also work. Star Croutons can be made up to a day in advance and stored in an airtight container.
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