Tomato Basil Soup with Orzo

Imagine standing in line at Zupas waiting to order your favorite soup - Tomato Basil. Oh wait, you no longer have to go wait in line for soup at Zupas (although, if I was ever in town, I still would because that's a fun place to eat) because you can make it in your very own home!!! You heard me folks! I made this today for dinner and Gary said "Put it on the docket" - that always means he likes and wants to have it again really soon. In this case, it will most likely be this week because I had leftovers! Yeah!! Or maybe I'll freeze it for another meal another day. I served it with yummy buns I made but next time I think I'll put a little grilled cheese on the griddle as well! Enjoy! (You can thank me later!)

Tomato Basil Soup with Orzo

1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 C. apple juice
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped **see notes at the bottom
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 4 because I love garlic)
1/2 C. diced red bell pepper
4 C. chopped fresh or canned tomatoes. (I used 42 oz. - a 28 oz. can and a 14.5 oz. can of whole tomatoes)
1 C. vegetable stock (I used chicken broth)
1/3 C. Orzo pasta - (because I love this and used more tomatoes than it called for, I used more Orzo too)
1/4 C. chopped fresh basil - (If you have it totally use it. NOTHING replaces fresh basil, but in my case, I didn't have it and didn't want to run to the store for one thing...so I used a small amount of dried. Can't wait to make it with fresh though)
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/4 C. butter

In soup pot, heat oil and apple juice over medium heat. Saute onion, garlic and red pepper 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is soft but not brown. Add small amounts of water if mixture becomes dry). Remove from heat. Add tomatoes and broth. Stir. Puree in blender and return to the pot. Add Orzo pasta; cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add butter and cream. Stir. Simmer 15 minutes stirring as often as possible. DO NOT BOIL. Add basil and serve immediately.

**yes, I use my Vidalia chopper EVERY.SINGLE.DAY and if you don't have one, go buy one right now! They are only like $19.00 and it will be the best $19.00 you ever spent in your whole entire life! :) I like to buy a big bag of onions at costco and then chop them up and freeze them, one onion at a time, in small sandwich freezer bags. It's AWESOME! I do this because 99.9% of the time I need a yellow onion, it is going to be cooked and put into something and I don't need it fresh. So, to save time and make my life just a little more simpler, I chop and freeze. Plus, I LOVE my Vidalia chopper and try to get as much use out of it as possible because it makes me happy! (and yes I used it on the red pepper too)

Recipe Sourse: I googled it because I wanted that Zupas soup and found this on a website about family cookbooks. Random...but thank them very much!

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