Cold Tomato Basil Soup

Makes about 2 quarts

3 pounds tomatoes, peeled and chopped (41/2 cups; see note)
4 cups chicken broth
2 yellow onions, chopped
1/4 cup tomato puree
1/4 cup finely minced fresh basil
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
About 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
About 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Salt to taste
Whole fresh basil leaves and cherry tomatoes, or shredded mozzarella cheese
tossed with olive oil and minced basil (optional garnish)

Combine the tomatoes, chicken broth, onions, tomato puree, minced basil and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until very soft. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Puree the mixture in food processor (alternatively, if you want to remove the seeds, push the tomato mixture through a strainer). Add balsamic vinegar, hot pepper sauce and salt to taste. Chill until ready to serve.

To garnish, add a small sprig of fresh basil and a cherry tomato or coarsely shredded mozzarella, tossed with chopped basil and a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil.

Note: To peel tomatoes, plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove immediately and plunge into cold water. Skin should slip off easily.

To freeze: Pour the cooled soup into freezer containers (leave about 1 inch of head room for rigid containers, 1/2 inch for bags, to accommodate expansion), seal and freeze. Thaw in refrigerator.