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Dorothy Dean presents: Tomato Pesto Soup with Parmesan Crostini

This tangy tomato soup features a swirl of pesto and side of garlicky crostini. (Audrey Alfaro)
This tangy tomato soup features a swirl of pesto and side of garlicky crostini. (Audrey Alfaro)
By Audrey Alfaro For The Spokesman-Review

From makeup to housewares, shoes to toys, Nordstrom is known for carrying top of the line items and brands. And that eminence carries over to their in-house restaurant, Marketplace Cafe, with tomato-basil soup so good they sell it by the jar.

It’s their most ordered dish and most asked-for recipe.

It’s simple, creamy and deliciously rich, served with a crisp Parmesan crostini, that when dunked, makes for the perfect bite.

I knew I had to recreate this at home, especially since tomato soup is my husband’s absolute favorite.

Upon researching their recipe, I was surprised it called for a generous amount of carrots. They add underlying sweetness and depth of flavor. Along with onions, dried basil, canned tomatoes and chicken broth, the carrots are slowly simmered before being blended smooth and finished to a velvety texture with cream. And since our fridge is always stocked with feta and pesto, I added those in as well. The feta adds creamy bites of saltiness and tang while the pesto lends a bright, nuttiness to the soup.

The crostini are utterly amazing. I could eat these alone by the platter. They’re everything you could ask for; buttery, garlicky, cheesy and crisp. The perfect complement to the soup.

To make a heartier meal out of it, add some tortellini. Or try it with orzo, sausage and fresh spinach.

Tomato Pesto Soup with Parmesan Crostini

Adapted from topsecretrecipes.com and blogs.nordstrom.com

For the soup:

3 tablespoons butter

2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced

1 1/4 cup yellow sweet onion, diced

1 tablespoon dried basil

2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes

5 cups chicken broth

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1 tablespoon chicken base

1 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup pesto

1/4 cup feta

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Parmesan crostini:

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/4 teaspoons granulated garlic

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 baguette, cut on a sharp diagonal into 3/8-inch-thick slices

In a large saucepan or pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add in carrots and onions and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in basil, tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste and chicken base and bring a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.

While the soup is simmering, make the Parmesan crostini. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix butter, cheese, salt and granulated garlic together until well blended. Stir in the parsley.

Generously spread each slice of bread with butter mixture. Place crostini on a baking sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes, until golden and crisp.

When soup is done simmering, purée soup in the saucepan with an immersion blender; or, in batches, in a blender or food processor.

Stir in the cream, pesto, feta and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot topped with a drizzle of pesto, sprinkle of feta and basil, and a few Parmesan crostini.

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