As far as fast food goes, my favorite restaurant has to be La Madeleine. When I was growing up, we would walk to the one just off St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, and being surrounded by French-Acadian culture with trollies whizzing by, it never occurred to me that it might be part of a chain. You can imagine my surprise (and delight, and then dismay) when I found one buried in a Baton Rouge suburb years later.
I still enjoy going, but the character of the our location just isn’t the same. Homegrown Texan girls trying to wrap their tongues around “Bonsoir, monsieur” change the atmosphere in a way that’s hard to ignore. The one thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the utter perfection of their tomato basil soup.
Knowing I didn’t want to go to a pastry-filled French bakery for one of their few low-carb dishes, last weekend we took a stab at making our own version. It may be winter here in Austin, but go into any grocery and you will find box after box of fresh tomatoes, still glowing from the Mexican sun. Armed with fresh produce and garlic flax bread, this recipe turned out better than either of us expected.
- 4 cups ripe tomatoes, diced
- 4 cups tomato juice
- 16 fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 stick unsalted butter
Combine diced tomatoes and juice in saucepan and simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If rings form on the side the of pan, scrape it down and mix them back into the soup.
Tip: Many recipes might advise peeling the tomatoes, but I see no good reason to discard the fruits’ best nutrients. Lycopene–the antioxidant tomatoes are famous for–is concentrated in the skin, and that’s just the beginning.
Place soup in a food processor or blender (in batches if yours isn’t large enough), add basil leaves, and puree. Return to pan, add cream and butter while stirring, then let simmer 10 more minutes. Garnish with basil leaves and serve.
Makes 8 servings. 241 calories and 8 net carbs per serving.