While on an Alaskan cruise, my friend Rikki W. couldn’t get enough of the “Cream of Tomato Soup.” For the first several days on the cruise, Rikki would help herself to bowl after heaping bowl of a delicious soup that was served at every lunch. One day she actually scraped the bottom of the pot clean and requested more “soup.” To her dismay, she was told that she’d been consuming the vodka sauce meant to be poured over the penne a la vodka pasta!
This story inspired me to develop a vodka tomato cream soup that’s reminiscent of the popular pasta dish. I wanted the same delicious taste, but lighter, without all the butter. If you prefer, complete the idea with a generous garnish of mini penne pasta, or enjoy it as is with a dollop of mascarpone or heavy cream in the center.
In a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, approximately seven to eight minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for two minutes. Add the stock, plum tomatoes, tomato sauce, vodka, salt, red pepper flakes and sugar to the pot. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low to medium for one hour.
Add chopped basil. Puree the soup with an immersion blender. Cook uncovered for at least 30 – 40 minutes until desired consistency is achieved. Stir in half and half or heavy cream.
Season with pepper and additional salt as needed. Serve hot.