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Tomato bisque with a chevre & olive crouton

For pairing with Schug Red Wines

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. light olive oil (extra virgin not necessary)
One medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
1 box (26.45 oz.) strained tomatoes
1 can (12 oz.) tomato paste
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper, to taste
12 small croutons
1/3 cup chèvre cheese
2 tbsp. Niçoise olives, chopped
2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
2 tbsp. fresh chives, chopped

Heat the butter and olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion and a pinch of salt. Stir and cook until the onions are soft, translucent and beginning to brown. Add the garlic to the onions and stir and cook another minute or two and then add the stock. Turn heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes or until onions are completely soft. Add the strained tomatoes and the tomato paste and stir until smooth. Remove soup from heat and set aside.

Mix the chèvre, olives and thyme together in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and a grinding of fresh pepper and mix once more. Set cheese aside. Using a blender or blender stick, puree all of the tomato soup until it is completely smooth and nicely thickened. Add the cream to the soup, stir well, and add salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. Return soup to a low flame. Gently heat the soup but do not let it boil.

Just before serving, spread some of the chèvre mixture onto the 12 croutons. Ladle hot soup into each of 6 serving bowls. Next, place 2 croutons on top of each bowl of soup and sprinkle soup with chopped chives. Serve soup hot. Serves 6.

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