Homemade Tomato Soup

1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons butter
2 cans (15 oz. each) diced or crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried basil
4 cups chicken broth
1 can (10.75 oz.) tomato puree
1 package (8 oz.) reduced fat cream cheese
Salt and pepper
Bacon crumbles and parsley sprig, optional garnish

In a 2-3 quart saucepan or Dutch oven sauté onion, celery, and garlic in butter until softened (about 5 minutes). Add tomatoes (un-drained) and basil; bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add chicken broth,* tomato puree, and cream cheese; salt and pepper to taste; heat through. Garnished with optional bacon crumbles, serve hot with Cheddar Chive Biscuits or grilled cheese sandwiches.

*NOTES: Soup may be pureed in blender if a smooth soup is desired. After tomatoes have been simmered with vegetables, place in blender with 2 cups chicken broth and tomato puree. Puree as desired. Return ingredients to sauce pan and continue with recipe.

Optional bacon bits are not included in nutrition analyses. To reduce sodium, use a low sodium chicken broth and/or tomatoes.

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