Tomato Parmesan Soup

Since we got three inches of snow last night (& it's still coming down), I've digressed back into soup mode.  I was slowly moving towards spring style fare.  Even started daydreaming about bbq-ing.  But those dreams have been crushed by the thick blanket of snow outside.  The good thing is I love soup, and this soup is out of this world!  It's a whole new level of tomato soup.  Besides tasting amazing, the best part about this soup is how easy it is to make.  Dice up a few veggies, open a few cans, pour them all in a crock pot and at the end of the day it's ready for you to puree it and dish up.  Make some fancy grilled cheese sandwiches using sharp cheddar and sourdough to accompany the soup, and dinner will knock their socks off.  Here's the DL...
2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh basil)
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup flour
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup butter
2 cups half & half, warmed
salt & pepper to taste
Add tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions, oregano, garlic powder, basil, and chicken broth in large slow cooker.  Cover & cook on low for 5-7 hours.
About half hour before serving, in saucepan melt butter over medium heat.  Whisk in flour & cook 2-3 minutes stirring constantly.  Slowly stir in 1 cup hot soup.  Add three more cups of soup and stir until smooth. Add the flour soup mixture back into the slow cooker.  Mix in the Parmesan cheese and warmed half & half.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Cover and continue to cook on low for another 30 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, blend soup until it is smooth & creamy.  Serve & enjoy.
*If you like chunky tomato soup skip the last step.
*No immersion blender?  Just pour the soup into your regular blend, works just as well.