Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

2 T. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 (28-oz.) can tomatoes with their juice
1 t. brown sugar
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed and bread torn into small pieces
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 T. brandy (optional)
salt and pepper
fresh basil or chives

Heat oil in a Dutch oven; add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and bay leaf and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and their juice and break up tomatoes with a potato masher or fork into pieces no bigger than 2 inches. Add brown sugar and bread and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer until bread is beginning to break down, about 5 minutes.

Transfer soup to a blender and blend until smooth. (You can also use an immersion blender.) Return to pot and stir in chicken broth and optional brandy. Bring to a simmer, add salt and pepper to taste along with basil or chives. Drizzle each serving with extra virgin olive oil.