Tomatoes and basil just seem like the perfect union. Something about the sweetness in each really brings out the best in both. This recipe is the closest I've been able to get to a wonderful soup my husband and I used to have all the time at a D.C. restaurant called La Madeleine. The soup may be pureed in the blender or passed through a food processor fitted with a fine blade. It can be made up to one day in advance and stored in the refrigerator until it’s ready to serve.
Summer Tomato Soup with Basil Cream
Place the cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat until scalded. Add the coarsely chopped basil sprigs, turn off the heat, and let sit for one hour
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 7 minutes. With kitchen string, tie basil sprigs together. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced by one-quarter, about twenty minutes. Let cool for ten minutes. Remove the basil sprigs.
In a blender, puree the soup in several batches on high speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Strain into a clean soup pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Strain the cream and discard the basil. Place the cream in a bowl and chill well. Whip the cream until soft peaks just begin to form. Add the finely chopped basil leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, heat the soup over medium heat until hot, 5 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle with cream. Serve immediately.
For an even sweeter soup, peel, seed and chop the tomatoes, since tomato seeds tend to be bitter.