Apparently this is the hottest recipe on-line these days and for good reason. This stuff is fabulous. Wonderful flavor, incredible texture, and really quite good for you. About the only fat-calories you'll find is in the Parmesan cheese and the butter. This uses fat-free half-and-half!
This makes a big batch so I'm going to experiment and see how it freezes (I'll get back to you on that). It is important (at least to me) that the vegetables are finely diced and that you use the petite diced tomatoes. I always have homemade croutons on hand for Caesar salads (I use Panera bagels, half everything, half Asiago, diced, coated with EVOO and sprinkled with Italian seasoning and garlic salt.....baked in a single layer at 325F for 15 minutes, stir, and baked another 10 minutes or so) and can't imagine using store-bought croutons to garnish this soup, although I guess if that's the worse thing you do today, you're ok in my book!
SLOW COOKER TOMATO BASIL SOUP (Serves 8-10)
2 (14 oz each) cans petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced onions
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried basil
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups fat-free half-and-half, warm
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
croutons for garnish
In a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions, oregano, basil, broth, and bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours until the vegetables are tender.
About 45 minutes before serving, melt the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is golden about 3 minutes. The mixture might be crumbly, that's ok.
Whisking constantly, slowly ladle in 1 cup (or a ladleful) of the hot soup from the slow cooker. Whisk until smooth and bubbly. Add another cup or ladleful and stir again until smooth. Add another cup or two and stir until smooth.
Stir the creamy, hot mixture back into the slow cooker. Add the Parmesan cheese, half-and-half, S&P, adding more S&P if needed.
Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes until ready to serve. Serve with croutons, if desired.