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Autumn Tomato Soup

I love to eat soup on cold, rainy, autumn nights. Specifically tomato soup. It is such a comfort food. I could eat it every week.
This soup was served at a dinner party by a dear (and very talented) friend. I quickly adopted it as my own.
It's like your favorite tomato soup turned up a notch or two. The addition of the vinegar and sugar give it a very subtle, but unique, sweet and sour kick.

Jenny's Tomato Soup
1 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T flour
1 onion, chopped
2-3 ribs celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup tomato paste
16 oz diced tomatoes
24 oz vegetable broth
1/3 cup milk
2 T sugar
2 T apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until it just starts to color.
Add the onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Stir occasionally until they cook through (about 5 minutes).
Add the bay leaf and tomato paste. Stir and cook for about 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes and broth. Simmer and stir occasionally for 10 minutes.
Add the milk.
Working in batches, puree the soup in the blender. Be careful to not fill the blender more than halfway full.
In a separate saucepan, combine the sugar and vinegar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the vinegar has reduced and the mixture is syrupy. Add to the soup.
Season with salt and pepper.

We served it with Parmesan cheese and our favorite bread sticks (once the dough is made, spread it on a greased baking sheet, top with desired toppings...we like melted butter, kosher salt and rosemary...then cut it into strips with a pizza cutter and bake).