Hearty Tomato Soup

Ingredients2 cups chopped carrots 2 cups chopped celery 3 cups diced onions 6 cloves garlic, minced 12 cups chopped fresh tomatoes 2 Tbsp olive oil 2 cups stock 2 Tbsp salt 2 tsp. sugar 2 bay leaves 4 cloves 12 fresh basil leaves

Method 1. Roughly chop all the vegetables. It doesn’t matter what they look like because the soup will be blended later, but make sure the carrots, onions and celery are all about the same size so they cook at the same rate. 2. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil. Add in the carrots, celery, onions and bay leaves and cook until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook another 5 minutes, but don’t let the vegetables brown. Add in the tomatoes,  stock, sugar, salt, basil and cloves. Allow to simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the carrots are soft. 3. Turn off the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes. 4. Puree the soup, either with a stick blender or in batches in a conventional blender. 5. Once the soup is all pureed, push it through a sieve.  You want to get out the tomato skins and seeds, but push through the rest of the vegetables. If you use too fine a mesh strainer, you will just end up with tomato juice. If you can skin and seed your tomatoes before making the soup you don’t have to strain it. But this is time consuming and I found it just easier to strain. 6. Put all the strained soup back in the pot and add the salt and sugar to taste. Even though my tomatoes were very ripe and sweet, I almost always add a couple of teaspoons of sugar to tomato soup or sauce because it helps balance out the acidity of the tomatoes and bring out the natural sweetness. 7. You can serve as is, or add cream to make a 'bisque'.