It was a bitterly cold, blustery day in Houston. A large bowl of that legendary tomato-basil soup ($3.75) from La Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe (6205 Kirby Drive, 713-942-7081, and various other locations) would be perfect. Just glimpsing the big black kettle that housed the pink soup produced a warm sensation. It has a nice balance of acidity and sweetness, and while it's definitely creamy, it's not velvety smooth -- you can discern some small tomato pieces. Green specks of basil, dotted throughout, add a gentle herbal overtone. Also available in take-home jars ($4.95 for 15.5 ounces, or $8.49 for 31 ounces).
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