Can you believe I never liked tomato soup when I was a kid? I mean, really, who doesn’t love tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches? Well, I didn’t.
I’m not sure why I didn’t like tomato soup; honestly I didn’t like any kind of soup. My mom prepared all sorts of crazy grilled cheese sandwiches just to get me to eat soup. Which I ate. That is, I ate the grilled cheese sandwiches and usually left a nearly full bowl of soup at the table.
However, somewhere along the years and with a more developed palate, I became obsessed with tomato soup. So much that I serve tomato soup often in my kitchen and today, both my daughters love a bowl of tomato soup, tomato bisque, or just a chunky tomato stew.
For me, it was the creamy texture of tomato bisque that first caught my attention. I was working in Boston and there was a little Italian deli down the street from where I worked that served the most lush, creamy and cheesy soup. In a word, it was divine. The highly entertaining and charismatic deli owner, Giovanni, served it with crusty Italian bread and butter which paired perfectly with the creamy tomato concoction.
I walked to that deli every day for my beloved tomato bisque, when finally, I realized I was developing a bit of an allergy to tomatoes. I seriously had to back off the soup for a while. Thankfully at that time, spring was making an appearance and my soup days would hopefully be limited with the warmer weather.
Of course, I continue to eat tomato soup – just not every day. I enjoy it the most when the weather is cool and rainy outdoors and when the soup is paired with my friend, Sheri’s, version of grilled cheese with apple butter. For me, its food heaven.
When my client asked for a classic tomato soup recipe for a retro food article, I was thrilled. I knew I wanted to include grilled cheese somehow, so I made little mini’s and called them grilled cheese croutons. However, there are times when I really want a hearty grilled cheese and apple butter sandwich with my tomato soup, so feel free to indulge.
This is totally off topic but notice the sweet table-cloth printed with apricots? Yep, it’s my mom’s tablecloth from the 1950’s and it was so perfect for this shoot. 😉
Wishing you warm and cozy days all curled up with this Classic Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Croutons!
Loads of Love,
Classic Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
2 tablespoons ghee or extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 28-32 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
½ teaspoon dried basil
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 ¼ cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup heavy cream
8 slices good quality white bread
1-2 tablespoons of butter
4 slices cheddar cheese
In a large pot over medium heat, add the ghee or olive oil and onions. Sauté the onions until wilted and then add the garlic and cook one minute longer.
Stir in the crushed tomatoes, dried basil, pinch of crushed red pepper, vegetable broth and sugar. Bring to a slow boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, prepare the croutons. Pre-heat the oven to broil. Butter one side of each slice of bread and place them buttered side down on a baking sheet. Add the cheese slices to the bread and then top with the remaining bread buttered side up. Place the baking sheet under the broiler and toast. Flip the sandwiches and toast the other side.
Remove them from the oven and let them cool. Slice them into small square croutons.
When the soup is done either transfer to a blender and blend until smooth or using an emersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and then stir in the heavy cream.
Serve the warm soup in bowls topped with the grilled cheese croutons.
This recipe first appeared in Home By Design Magazine Fall 2016