I've never met a tomato soup I didn't like. It looks rustic, it feels rich, and it tastes, well, honest. Here's a base that's beautiful just on its own — I like freezing a couple of batches to have on hand.
In the summer we take [the tomatoes] fresh off the vine, and in the winter we roast them to concentrate the flavor when good tomatoes are almost impossible to find.
Tip: Feel free to dress up this soup with a swirl of pesto and garlic croutons, sauteed zucchini and corn, or a touch of soft goat cheese and sauteed mushrooms.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and basil. Season with salt, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not colored, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, until aromatic. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes and chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes to break down the tomatoes and blend the flavors.
Working in batches, pour the soup into a blender and blend until smooth (or leave part of it chunky for one of the variations), returning the soup to a new pan. Spoon into bowls and serve with your choice of garnish.
Reprinted by permission of Food, Health, and Happiness by Oprah Winfrey, Flatiron Books. Copyright © 2016.