It’s not that cold here, thank goodness. In fact, it’s still warm enough to enjoy fresh tomatoes and fresh basil, sun-warmed out of the garden. After purchasing 30 pounds of tomatoes last weekend and putting most of them up hot-packed, I still had a dutch oven full of peeled, quartered tomatoes. What was going to be more hot-packed tomatoes ended up turning into the most fabulous tomato soup I’ve ever had. After tormenting my Facebook friends with pictures of our dinner Saturday night, I thought it’d be only kind to share my recipes with them and with you.
First up, my homemade Tomato Basil Bisque.
2 T. Butter or Margarine
1 medium onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
3 small carrots, grated (about 1 cup)
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half
1 jar (26 oz.) chunky tomato pasta sauce
1 can (14.5 ozs.) diced tomatoes, undrained
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
Additional basil for garnish (optional)
- In 3 qt. saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrots, cooking 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add flour; cook and stir until moistened. Gradually add half-and-half, cooking and stirring about 2 minutes until smooth.
- Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover; cook for 15 minutes just until coming to a boil, stirring frequently.
- If desired, top with additional fresh basil leaves
Can use 2% milk. When I made this, I made my own tomato sauce from cooked down tomatoes, adding 1 tsp. salt to that. I also used fresh tomatoes instead of canned. I added ½ tsp. salt and 1 T. of Italian seasoning to the soup. It was a tad too salty, though, so I recommend adding only 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the homemade sauce. I found a pouch of this Italian seasoning blend in the pantry that I’m going to use next time.
I made that bisque to accompany these Chicken and Cheese Stuffed Shells. These feature my homemade pesto, made from basil I harvested from our garden. I still have at least 6 thriving basil plants and 6 plastic pint containers of pesto in the freezer. It’s going to taste like summer all winter!
Chicken & Cheese-Stuffed Shells with Pesto
24 ounces chicken, cooked and diced
1 cup Italian-blend cheese, divided
16 ounces pesto
½ box jumbo pasta shells
Cook shells according to package directions; drain.
While the pasta is cooking, combine 1/3 cup cheese, all the chicken, and ¼ cup pesto in a bowl.
Fill cooked shells with chicken mixture and place in a 9”x9” or 11”x7” pan. Top with remaining cheese.
Bake for 5 minutes at 350o, or just until cheese is melted. After removing pan from oven, cover shells with pesto. Let sit for 5 minutes to warm the pesto.
When we’re not making soap, we really love to experiment in the kitchen, trying out delicious, easy, inexpensive dishes that are well-suited to our busy life. I’m hoping to make up some of that bisque (minus the milk) to can for the winter.