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Season to Taste

It seems the term, “Bucket List”, has taken a huge surge in popularity. I’ve heard several others speaking of desires to accomplish something on their “bucket list”. I truly understand that it is meant to be a cute, nonchalant, catch phrase to state one has a particular goal in mind to do before they pass on. Does it seem too Polly-Anna to come right out and say, I really don’t like it?

I don’t want to think of death as the idea of kicking the bucket. It is far too cold, shallow, and impersonal. For me, saying anything remotely close to kicking the bucket is a Redneck-Ever-So-Tacky way of referring to dying.

Polly-Anna does have a goal in mind and that is to create the best tomato basil soup in the Western Hemisphere. I dream of people from all corners of the Earth sitting around craving a piping hot bowl of my decadent soup and going to any lengths to get their hands on my secret, never to be divulged recipe.

I have not yet reached that unrealistic goal but until I do, I think you will find the following recipe second to none.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

1 (28 oz.) can tomatoes, crushed (you may want to try Italian flavor too)

1 (11.5 oz.) can tomato-vegetable juice cocktail (I use V-8)

1 (14.5 oz.) can chicken stock

½ cup half and half plus ½ cup heavy cream *If you want this to be really rich, use 1 cup of heavy cream or if you want a healthier option go with 1 cup of ½ and ½. I prefer to mix the milk.

1/8 cup butter

1 tsp. minced garlic (I omit the garlic)

1 finely minced shallot

½ tsp. baking soda

20 fresh basil leaves cut into very fine strips

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pan, add crushed tomatoes, V-8, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer. In a small saucepan melt the butter and sauté the shallot. Add garlic and sauté a minute or two. Add to the tomato base, along with baking soda. Stir well. Over very low heat, add cream. Serve hot garnished with fresh basil. Remember, you can gently reheat this soup but you cannot bring it back up to a boil once you have added the cream. That is a No-No.

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