Summer potato soup with tomatoes & basil


2 tbsp butter
6 1/2 cups water
1 large white onion, diced
1 bay leaf
5 branches lemon thyme or thyme
1 1/2 lbs new potatoes, chopped
1 tsp salt

4 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, & diced
1 cup basil leaves, loosely packed
red wine vinegar to taste
white or black pepper

How to prepare

Melt the butter in a soup pot with 1/2 cup of the water and add the onion, bay leaf, and thyme. Cook over medium-low heat 4 to 5 minutes; add the potatoes and salt. Cover the pot and stew for 5 minutes. Pour in the rest of the water and bring to a boil; then simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender and falling apart. Pass the soup through a food mill, and return it to the soup pot. Avoid using a blender, which will tend to make the soup gummy and glutinous. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Warm a tbsp of the olive oil in a skillet, add the tomatoes, and cook over medium-high heat until the juice has evaporated and the tomatoes have thickened slightly. Break them up with a spoon to make a semi-smooth sauce, and season to taste with salt. Once the potatoes have been passed through the food mill, stir in the tomatoes. Combine the remaining oil and the basil in a blender jar and puree. Season with salt and vinegar to taste. Serve the soup with a spoonful of the basil puree swirled into each bowl and a generous grinding of pepper. If the soup thickens between the time it is made and served, thin it with additional water or, if you prefer, milk or cream. Serves 4 to 6

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