Tomato Soup with Herbed Croutons

½ small onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can Italian-style tomatoes, undrained and seeded
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 bay leaf
Herbed Croutons

Cook onion in butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until tender. Reduce heat to low; add flour, stirring until smooth. Gradually add broth; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly. Add tomatoes and next 7 ingredients; stir well. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.

Spoon part of tomato mixture into container of an electric blender; cover and process, until smooth. Repeat procedure with remaining tomato mixture. (Note: May be made ahead of time and refrigerated up to this point.)

To serve, ladle hot soup into individual serving bowls. Top each with Herbed Croutons. Yield: 4 servings.

Herbed Croutons
2 slices white or wheat bread
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon dried basil

Trim and discard crusts from brea d slices. Spread butter over brea d; sprinkle with cheese and basil. Cut each slice into 4 squares; cut each square into 2 triangles. Place on an ungreased baking sheet; bake at 325° F for 20 minutes, or until croutons are dry and browned.