Homemade Tomato Soup with Parmesan Cheese

Homemade Tomato Soup
Makes 4 servings

2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (3.5 lbs – about 12 medium tomatoes)
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1/8 cup orange juice, pulp-free
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 (8 oz) reduced-sodium chicken stock
4 tablespoons butter
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened (about 7-8 minutes)
2. Add the flour, and cook until it no longer appears dry. Remove the pot from the heat to cool.
3. Put the crushed tomatoes, sautéed onions, garlic, and cilantro into a blender and purée until smooth
4. Return the purée to the pot, and add the chicken stock, tomato paste, orange juice, maple syrup and bay leaves
5. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the soup comes to a simmer and the soup thickens slightly (about 20 minutes)
6. Remove the bay leaves and adjust seasoning as desired
7. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese and garnish with a cilantro leaf

Larry with Pot of Hot BrothUnlike many soup recipes, this one has you do the puree while the product is still cool. I have found this to be much easier to handle than trying to pulse the hot soup in a blender or food processor. If, however, you choose to puree when the soup is finished, allow it to cool for at least 5 minutes and fill the blender or food processor no more than halfway. Leave an air gap in the lid to avoid the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.