Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

While we were in Vegas we ate at a lot of buffets (the 24-hour pass to eight buffets was cheaper than meals for 24 hours...don't judge us—we may be foodies, but we're also poor newlyweds! It sounded like a good idea at the time, but when that 24 hours was up we never wanted to see another buffet again!), one of them being Le Village Buffet in the Paris casino. All the buffets were standard and didn't really blow us out of the water, but the tomato basil soup at the Paris was AMAZING!
We were still talking about it weeks after our trip, and one day Stew suggested we make it for dinner. So I gathered a few recipes that looked good and just went for it, combining different aspects of each recipe. It was really light, delicious AND healthy! Hope you like it!

2 Tbsp butter (I think the butter could be reduced even more if you want)
1 onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, diced and seeds removed
1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
4 cups chicken broth
1 (12 oz) can low-fat evaporated milk
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup (small handful) fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
Italian seasoning, oregano, garlic salt, salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (if desired)

Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and celery and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, milk, basil and other spices. Bring to a low boil, then reduce to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Can eat chunky or blend until desired consistency.
Top with parmesan/mozzarella/monterey jack cheese and some chopped fresh basil if desired. We served it with a homemade french baguette (in Liz's Food Nanny cookbook!) and a green salad with balsamic vinegar.



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