Often it seems like tomato soups don’t taste anything like an actual tomato — the tomatoes are roasted or stewed into a soup that is so far from the starting main ingredient. I like using Early Girl tomatoes for this recipe because they cook really quickly and have a fresh, bright flavor, but you can use any mix or assortment of tomatoes you have on hand. This soup has a great creamy texture without adding any cream.
For more recipes and tips from Valerie, visit her website Eat-Drink-Garden.
In a 4- to 6-quart pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat until the butter starts to bubble. Add the onion, celery, garlic, and the bay leaf and sauté on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes, the teaspoon of salt, and the pinch of red pepper flakes. Mix until the tomatoes soften and release their juices, about 10 minutes, and then cover and cook another 10 minutes. When the soup takes on a sauce consistency, remove the bay leaf and purée it using a hand blender and stand blender. Thin out the soup with a 1/2-1 cup of water, depending on the consistency you desire. Finish with a splash of white balsamic vinegar and the rest of the salt and bring to back to a simmer. Pour into bowls and garnish with basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.