Tomato Soup with Orzo

My friend Florine and I cooked dinner for the kids and tutors at the Whiz Kids tutoring program at Confluence last night - turkey and cheddar cheese sandwiches, carrots, and this tomato soup that was a huge hit with the kids and tutors alike. I thought I'd have a little left to photograph the soup in a bowl for you, but we scraped the pot clean at dinner! Add a big salad alongside this and call it dinner tonight.
Begin with a couple of large white onions and just chop them roughly - the soup gets pureed at the end, so need for fussing at this step. Then cook them with a little olive oil and a good amount of salt and pepper for seasoning.
When they are slightly softened, add the broth...
...the crushed tomatoes...
...and the chopped basil. Let it all simmer for a bit to come together, then use a stick blender to puree it in the pot. If you need to transfer it to a traditional blender, let it cool slightly before proceeding.
Return it all to the pot and taste for salt and season as needed. I've been meaning to show you a shot of this cool salt cellar I found in Lecce on our cooking trip to Italy last year. You fill the whole thing up (I keep my Kosher salt for cooking by the stove in this) and then it comes out the front for use as needed.
At this point I added a couple of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rinds to let that flavor simmer into the soup. About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve, remove the rinds (if you are using them) and add the pasta. Cook just until the pasta is al dente.
I like to finish this creamy soup with just a bit of heavy cream for richness, but you can leave this out if you're trying to limit fat.
Tomato Soup with Orzo
Serves 10-16

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, diced
8 cups vegetable stock
58 ounces chopped tomatoes (1 large can)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup basil, chopped
8 ounces orzo
1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat a large saucepan over medium high, add olive oil and onion to the saucepan and sauté until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add vegetable stock, tomatoes, red pepper and basil. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, then puree in a blender or food processor or using a stick blender. Add orzo, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook until orzo is al dente. Stir in heavy cream and serve immediately.

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