¾cupchicken or vegetable broth, more or less (I use low sodium)
1cupdiced onion, about 1 medium onion
½teaspoonbaking soda (see note)
Salt and pepper
½cupheavy cream or fat free half-and-half, optional
In a strainer set over a large bowl or a liquid measuring cup, drain the canned tomatoes, pressing lightly to release all of the juice. You may have anywhere from 2-3 cups juice from the tomatoes (depending on the brand).
Add broth to the tomato juice to equal 3 1/2 cups total. Set tomatoes and liquid aside.
In a 4- or 5-quart pot set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add about 2/3 of the drained tomatoes, the bay leaf and the brown sugar. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are sizzling and fragrant. The mixture will be thicken as it cooks.
Stir in the tomato paste and the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes.
Stir in the reserved tomato juice/broth mixture, the remaining tomatoes, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5-7 minutes.
Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf. Puree the soup until smooth (using an immersion blender or transferring the soup in batches to a regular blender). Stir in the cream, if using, and season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed.
Baking Soda: the baking soda cuts the acidity of the tomatoes and mellows out the flavor.Make Ahead: this soup can be made up to three days in advance and refrigerated in a covered container. Warm over medium-low heat to serve. It also freezes really well!