Mother's Creamy Tomato Soup

*Mother's Creamy Tomato Soup*
Serves 4

Creamy and dreamy.  Very rich.  Perfect with a grilled cheese!

90g plus 2 TBS butter, divided (1/3 cup plus 2 TBS)
1 large onion, peeled and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 ribs celery, trimmed and coarsley chopped
1/2 bay leaf
1 small sprig fresh thyme
2 X (400g) tins of chopped tomatoes in puree undrained (1 28 ounce tin)
3 TBS tomato puree (tomato paste)
50g of plain flour (6 1/2 TBS)
450ml single cream (2 cups half and half)
450ml milk (2 cups)
150ml double cream (2/3 cup heavy cream)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt 1 TBS of butter in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and celery.  Cover and cook on low over low heat until very soft, about 20 minutes.  Add the bay leaf, thyme, tinned tomatoes and tomato puree.  Bring to a simmer and cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes.

Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour.  Cook for several minutes to cook out the flour taste. It should smell a bit nutty. Slowly whisk in the half andhalf and milk, allowing the flour mixture to absorb each addition before adding another.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour this into the pot with the tomatoes, whisking it in well.  Whisk in the cream.  Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes longer.  Remove the bay leaf and thyme. 

Puree the soup until smooth using an immersion blender, foor processor or a regular blender.  Strain through a mesh strainer into a clean pot.  Discard any solids.  Bring the soup to a simmer.  If it seems too thick you can add a bit more milk until you get it to the consistency you want it to be.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
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