Heat butter until it melts in a saucepan or a pot. Keep the heat to low or medium-low.
Add bay leaves and sauté for a few seconds. Add chopped onions and garlic. Stir and sauté until onions soften for about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add chopped tomatoes and salt. Mix well.
Cover pan and simmer on a low to medium-low heat until tomatoes soften or for about 8 to 10 minutes.
There is no need to add water. But do keep an eye when the tomatoes are simmering. If the liquids dry up then add a splash of water and continue cooking.
After the tomatoes have softened, remove from the heat and cool. Take out the bay leaves and discard.
Blending and straining
Once the tomato mixture has cooled to a point that’s safe to work with, add it to a blender jar. You can also use an immersion blender.
Blend to a smooth consistency.
You have the option of straining the puree through a strainer for an even smoother soup, but this step isn’t necessary.
If you do choose to strain the puree, move a spoon through it so that everything is strained except the seeds.
Pour the tomato puree back into the pot, and add water and sugar. Mix and stir well.
Simmer on a low heat until the soup becomes hot but not boiling.
Season with freshly crushed black pepper and stir.
Turn off the heat and stir in, 1 to 2 tablespoons of heavy cream, depending on desired richness.
Mix well, taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed.
When the tomato mixture is cooling, you can make the bread croutons. Mix together the bread cubes, olive oil, salt and freshly crushed black pepper in a baking tray. Toss to coat.
Bake in a preheated oven for about 3 to 5 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit) until bread cubes are golden and crisp. Or, you can toast the bread cubes in a skillet until golden brown on all sides.
Pour the hot tomato soup into bowls. Add the croutons directly on top of the soup, or serve on the side. You can also garnish the tomato soup with a bit of freshly chopped parsley or coriander leaves (cilantro) or basil sprigs or mint leaves.
This soup is great served fresh, but also keeps well in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Butter: Instead of butter you can use olive oil or sunflower oil.
Cream: Instead of heavy cream you can use coconut cream or cashew cream
Tomatoes: Use fresh and very ripe red tomatoes. Avoid using tomatoes which are unripe, as they’ll likely have a sour taste.
Butter: You could use salted butter or unsalted butter.
Onions: You could use red onions, white onions and even shallots.
Herbs: Feel free to add herbs like celery stems or basil to the soup for even more flavor. For celery add 1 tablespoon of chopped celery with the tomatoes. For basil, include 4 to 5 fresh basil leaves when the tomatoes are softened and cooked. Mix and simmer for a minute.
Ingredient proportions: There is just the right balance of tanginess from the tomatoes and sweetness from the sugar and cream in this recipe. So be sure to follow the recipe precisely so that you don’t add too much of any one element and throw off this delicate ratio.
Skipping onions: You can skip the onions in the soup if you prefer, but I suggest that you add garlic.
Straining the blended tomatoes: Though this step is not essential but for a smoother creamier consistency, I suggest to strain the blended tomatoes.
Consistency: For a slightly thin soup, you could add a bit more water or vegetable broth. But do not make the soup watery or runny as the flavors and taste would go off balance.