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  Roasted Tomato Soup With Basil Oil
A great way to use tomatoes!

2 1/2 lb plum tomatoes, trimmed & halved lengthwise
3 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp & 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or low salt canned broth
3 1/2 tsps roasted garlic puree
3 to 4 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tsps basil oil or a store bought oil (optional)
sprigs of fresh basil for garnish (optional)

BASIL OIL:
1 3/4 cups fresh basil leaves, chopped
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil


SOUP

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450F. On a cookie sheet, toss the tomatoes with 1 Tbs of the olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt. Spread them in a single layer and roast them, turning once, till they're very soft and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Cool and chop.

In a medium pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 Tbs olive oil. Add the onion and bay leaf, cover and cook, stirring occasionally till the onion is becoming tender and is lightly browned. About 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stock, garlic puree, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a grinding of pepper. Bring to a simmer, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally till the tomatoes have almost dissolved into the broth, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. Discard the bay leaf.

Force the soup through the medium blade of a food mill or puree it in a food processor or blender. (The soup can be prepared to this point up to 3 days ahead. Cool completely, cover and refrigerate.)

To serve cold, stir in lemon juice to taste and adjust the seasoning. To serve hot bring the soup to a simmer over low heat. Stir in lemon juice to taste and adjust the seasoning. Ladle into bowls. Drizzle each serving with 1/2 tsp Basil Oil, garnish with a sprig of basil and serve immediately.

BASIL OIL: In a food processor, combine the basil and 3 Tbs of the oil. Process, scraping down the sides of the work bowl several times till the basil is partially pureed. With the motor running, gradually add the remaining olive oil through the feed tube. Transfer to a container, cover and let the mixture stand at room temp for 24 hours.

Transfer to a fine strainer set over a bowl. Press on the puree with the back of a spoon to extract all the flavored oil. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, returning the oil to room temp before using. Makes about 2/3 cup. Good hot or cold.

Yield: 6 Servings