soup’s on…

Growing up, the only tomato soup I was familiar with came in a red and white can. Almost always served with grilled cheese and tater tots, it was hardly the highlight of any meal. Tasting like a combination of creamed tomato sauce and watered-down ketchup, the tomato soup of my youth was bland and boring.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s had I tried a decent bowl of tomato soup. My love affair began while on a business trip in Scottsdale. Wanting to escape the midday heat, I found refuge at the local air-conditioned mall. And just like any other mall, this had your garden-variety, typical food court fare. Sandwiched between a baked potato stall and an ice cream parlor was “the” place.

La Madeline is a French patisserie/boulangerie/bistro with roots, of all places, in Texas. Brightly decorated in a country French style, it looked like it leapt straight out of an impressionist’s painting. Even in the middle of the afternoon, the place was surprisingly busy. While the sounds of Edith Piaf and Yves Montand played in the background, the air was filled with the wonderful smells of fresh-baked bread.

I don’t remember much of what I ate that fateful day, but their soup was unfrogettable. The tomato basil is La Madeline’s signature soup. It was thick, almost chunky, and full of tomato-basil flavor. One thing was certain: this was no Campbell’s.

It’s been well over 15 years since I had my first taste of La Madeline’s tomato-basil soup. I’m fortunate enough to have friends that send me a jar of the soup to keep my cravings in check.

A few years ago, I decided to replicate the soup at home. After several failed batches, I now can have the same-tasting soup whenever I want—which is pretty much all the time.

And tonight, with the rain pouring and cold air blowing, a bowl of tomato-basil soup will keep me warm. And happy…Tomato Basil Soup

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