Campbell’s Tomato Soup was a vital part of my college experience — but not in the way you might think.

On my way to classes in the art department of Colorado State University, I routinely walked past three 5,800-pound cans of soup designed and signed by pop artist Andy Warhol. The outdoor sculptures were part of a Warhol exhibition at Colorado State University in 1981.

Back then, the canned art sated my hunger more than any tomato soup could, although I had yet to discover the culinary arts and basil, an herb I now consider a pivotal brushstroke in creating any tomato soup masterpiece.

Adding crushed and diced tomatoes and fresh vegetables adds dietary fiber while eliminating high-fructose corn syrup and wheat flour contained in Campbell’s iconic classic tomato soup.

This recipe for tomato basil soup is so easy and quick to prepare, it’s doubtful I’ll ever need to actually open a can of soup.

Tomato Basil Soup

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 Tbsp. olive oil

3 large carrots, peeled and diced

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

2 tsp. dried basil leaves

One 28-oz. can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes

One 14.5-ouz. can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with liquid

One 14.5-oz. reduced sodium chicken broth

2 c. 2% low-fat evaporated milk

Salt and pepper to taste

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12 to 18 garlic cheese croutons (the larger-size croutons)

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add carrots and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add basil and blend well.

Stir in tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and simmer, uncovered, 30 to 40 minutes. Allow mixture to cool slightly.

Use an immersion blender and puree soup until smooth (or alternately, in batches, place soup into the work bowl of a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Return soup to saucepan.)

Add evaporated milk and stir gently to blend. Heat until heated through over medium heat but do not allow to boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle soup into serving bowls and garnish each serving with 3 garlic cheese croutons.

Nutritional information per serving, based on 4: 373 calories (26 percent from fat), 11 g total fat (2 g saturated), 6 g cholesterol, 51 g carbohydrates, 20 g protein, 474 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber.

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