¼cupchopped fresh basil(or use about 1 tablespoon of dried basil in a pinch)
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 more seconds.
Stir in bay leaves. Add tomatoes, broth, and brown sugar.
Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer (uncovered) over low heat for about 15 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves from pot.
Use an immersion blender (or a regular blender in batches) to puree the soup until it reaches the desired consistency. You can leave some chunks of tomatoes, or make it completely smooth.
Stir in the cream and basil until well combined. Serve warm.
Usehigh quality canned tomatoes for the best results (cheaper varieties are full of water and won’t provide as much rich flavor).
Start with room temperature cream (rather than cold cream). Room temperature cream or half-and-half is less likely to separate or curdle when added to the hot soup.
Don’t use milk in lieu of the cream or half-and-half. Milk doesn't have enough fat to yield the same rich, creamy flavor and texture.
Don't omit the sugar. It's important to use sugar in tomato recipes in order to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. The end result is a more complex, richer tomato flavor.
The total amount of seasoning necessary will depend on the saltiness of your broth. Taste the soup as you're cooking it and season with salt and pepper as you go. This is a matter of personal preference, so you can make your soup as salty (or not) as you like.
Fresh basil is always best, but you can substitute with 1 tablespoon of dried basil if necessary.
If you're not looking for a vegetarian soup, feel free to substitute chicken broth for the vegetable broth.
Canned full-fat coconut milk is a nice, creamy, dairy-free alternative to the heavy cream or half-and-half.
For a richer, creamier soup, add more heavy cream at the end.