Tomato Basil Sour Cream Soup


While I lived with Jujus, we played this “game” of sorts called, Nothing Goes Bad.  The cold hard truth behind its invention was the quantity of food we watched people throw away.  From half loaves of stale bread to the last of the sour cream, vegetables or fruit which might soon start to spoil, we consistently came up with ways to incorporate ingredients and clean out the fridge.

“Waste not, want not,” my mother always said.  Until I lived on my own and managed my budget I didn’t fully appreciate what her cliché meant.  Now I take pride in scraping the last of the mayonnaise from the container, finishing the strawberries and extending the leftover chicken from the night before into a new meal.

There was chicken stock, sour cream, and leftover basil in the fridge.  Plus there were potatoes in the pantry  getting older by the day.  Now if you know anything about me, you know I LOVE basil.  It’s not a fleeting romance.  Basil will be with me from here on out.  Basil smells sweet, fresh and clean.  Bite into it and taste its peppery flavor.  Boys, if you are looking for an inexpensive substitution for flowers – this is it!  Simply hand your girl a bouquet of basil, pluck off a leaf, put it in your hair.  Tell her Italian suitors used to court with a sprig of basil in their hair, and if you’re lucky she might just bring you in for quick taste of this beautiful herb.

Again it rained in Seattle, but what’s new?  I haven’t re-developed my thick northwest skin yet and so I get pretty cold.  A hot spicy soup is the perfect remedy.  Normally I make Tomato Basil Soup with cream and butternut squash.  I roast my own tomatoes and use homemade chicken stock.  That’s not the game today though and this leftover fridge and pantry stocked concoction is delicious.

The onions start the sweetness and as the already stewed tomatoes release more of their juices their sugar comes too.  The natural sugar in your mouth is followed by a kick you in the face heat.  Don’t worry though, the tart sour cream will cool you off nicely and if you need a little extra, dollop some on top before you serve.  The basil adds a freshness to the soup with a sprinkling of bright green color and that brings us to the potatoes.  They are an ideal starchy finish.  With their crisp bite, you’ll have no need for crackers, croutons or bread.  Seasoned with a touch of garlic powder, salt and pepper, you’ll have a hard time dropping them in the soup, so I suggest making extra.

If you haven’t started looking in your cupboards and your fridge, start now.  Milk can replace the sour cream.  No chicken stock?  Try vegetable stock or a chicken bouillon cube stirred into water.  There’s always a way to use up things before they go bad.


Tomato Basil Sour Cream Soup

Serves 4

3 TBS olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
3 – 15 oz cans stewed tomatoes
1½ TBS tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup plus 4 TBS fresh basil
1 cup sour cream
Oven Roasted Potatoes (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.  Cook onions and shallots until translucent, season as they hit the pan.  Add crushed red pepper and garlic.  Cook until fragrant.

Add cayenne and chili.  Stir to coat.  Add tomatoes, tomato paste and broth.  Stir and mix together thoroughly.

Finely chop ½ cup basil and stir in.  Check seasonings.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer.

Allow to simmer ½ hour to an hour.

Puree to smooth in small batches.
Note:  If you have an immersion blender on hand it will work great, if not, use a blender.

Stir in sour cream.

Garnish with finely chopped basil.
Recipe in print-friendly format


About Mikaela Cowles

I’m a food-gobbling, book-reading, aspiring photog. Born and raised in Seattle, I love dancing in the rain, bouquets of fresh basil and green grass between my toes. I like how kneading butter into flour makes my fingers soft. I’m passionate about all things sweet potato. I prefer my coffee black, my scotch on the rocks and my steak bloody. I hunt, when I have time; play basketball; and hike. I’ve been known to laugh so hard I hyperventilate. And, I’m the owner of Making Language Count, a boutique freelance writing business.

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