If a snowstorm on the first day of Spring isn’t a great reason to make a lighter but still warming soup, I don’t know what is! This dish would be great for the coming weeks as temps keep climbing but nights are chilly. It delivers a major antioxidant punch from all the tomatoes, and is especially delicious if you use homemade chicken broth. But I have to discuss what makes me the most excited about this soup’s recipe, because it led me to a small but significant culinary success I’d given up hoping for.
Remember the cooking scene in Goodfellas where the garlic’s sliced so thinly it liquifies in the pan with just a little oil? How easy it looked, how obvious a trick, how delicious it sounded! I know I’m not the only one who was inspired to try the paper-thin slicing method (I never did use an actual razor blade though) and sadly I’m not the only one who’s failed at accomplishing liquefaction! I tried to recreate this magic an embarrassing number of times, and finally had to stop wasting ingredients.
This tomato soup starts out like many soups do – heating oil, sautéing garlic, following with aromatics and finally on to the main event of the dish. Yet! I happened to come across a recipe that includes the genius technique of grating the garlic clove with a microplane over the heated oil. When I tried it, the garlic sizzled and then just disappeared into the oil… IT LIQUIFIED IN THE PAN!!! It’s only been 23 years people, this is big. Maybe I’m not sitting in a bathrobe in prison shaving off one slice of garlic every 45 seconds, but it liquified. I will no longer be mincing garlic for use in soups and sauces, the microplane method is here to stay!
The Grilled Cheese Croutons? A much more recent and straightforward obsession – I saw them in a photo somewhere over the past few months and have been waiting for the right time to use them. Adding them to the soup is a fun way to jazz it up, and the heft falls somewhere between a full-on sandwich and non-cheesy croutons. Because I used a heartier bread, they did sink partially down – if you want them to float for awhile and be charming, I’d suggest a fluffy sandwich loaf.
Servings: Four Tomato Soup, recipe can be easily doubled. Grilled Cheese recipe makes enough croutons for one – two, simply double if necessary.
Time: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes
Hands-On Time: 35 Minutes
Kitchen Equipment: Large heavy bottomed pot, large stirring spoon, microplane or grater, standing mixer or immersion blender, bread knife, sharp knife, spatula frying pan.
– 2 Tsp Butter
– 2 Tsp Olive Oil
– 1 Garlic Clove, Peeled
– 1/2 Yellow Onion, Finely Diced
– 1 & 1/2 Carrots, Finely Diced
– 1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
– 1 & 1/2 28 Oz Cans Whole Peeled Tomatoes, including juices
– 2 Cups Chicken Broth, homemade strongly recommended
– 1/2 Cup Water
– Splash of half & half
– Salt & Pepper
Tomato Soup Steps:
– In the large heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium – low heat.
– Hold the microplane or grater over the melted butter and oil, and pass garlic over until entire clove is grated into the melted liquid. Stir to throughly incorporate the garlic. It will almost melt away.
– Add the onion and carrot and sauté about five minutes.
– Add the tomato paste and stir to throughly incorporate.
– Add the canned tomatoes & their juices, chicken broth and water. Stir and bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20 – 40 minutes.
– If using the immersion blender, puree the soup to desired consistency. I like mine velvety throughout, you may want to leave a few larger pieces of the tomato.
– If using a standing blender, puree to desired consistency, working in batches. As recounted in other posts, it is essential not to over fill the blender with the hot soup, as well as to leave a steam release. The lid will go flying otherwise and the soup with it. If using a blender, place all of the soup in a large mixing bowl before beginning the blending. This way you can return the pureed soup to the pot as batches are completed.
– Continue to simmer the soup, adding salt & pepper to taste and a splash of creme and stirring one last time before moving on to the Grilled Cheese…
Grilled Cheese Crouton Ingredients:
– 2 Small Slices Hearty Whole Wheat Bread (or any sandwich loaf bread you like), crusts trimmed
– 2 Tsp Olive Oil
– Mild Cheddar Cheese, sliced 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick
Grilled Cheese Crouton Steps:
– Heat the olive oil over low heat in a frying pan.
– Add the slices and cook on one side for 3-5 minutes, until browned, then flip and repeat. Heating both sides will give extra crunch, plus enhance melting once you add the cheese.
– When both sides of the bread are browned, add enough cheese to cover one slice. Place the other slice on top of the cheese.
– Turn heat to low, and cover frying pan with a lid. A lid from a smaller pot, that just covers the sandwich, works too.
– Remove the lid and flip after 3-4 minutes, repeat.
– When cheese is melted through, remove the sandwich with a spatula and set on a cutting board. Cut into bite-sized croutons.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with the Grilled Cheese Croutons. Bacon bits were an indulgent finisher, fresh herbs would work well too (maybe when it stops snowing…)!
Note: The Tomato Soup Recipe and genius microplane garlic technique therein first appeared on The Pioneer Woman Cooks.