Tomato Garlic Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
A childhood favorite combination – now with a little sophistication. The perfect kind of comfort food together in one bowl of soup. Redesigned with a lingering mellow garlic essence.
Add 3 T. of olive oil to a heavy soup pot. Set heat to medium- low and add the onions and the garlic. Give a stir and cook them slowly for 5 minutes until translucent, but not colored. Add the leeks, turn heat down to low and cover for 5 minutes until all are softened. Remove the vegetables to a small bowl.
Add 2 T. olive oil, set heat to medium-high. When hot, add the drained and tomatoes cook until they have started to color around the edges, stirring, about 5 minutes (will add a nice roasted flavor to the soup.)
Add the pepper, smoked paprika, cloves and tomato paste, stir in. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
Add the broth and tomato juice (puree.) Stir well, bring to a boil. Now, turn down the heat to low, add the reserved vegetables and cover. Cook at a bare simmer for 30 minutes. Cool slightly. Add half of the soup to a blender, and whirl until smooth. Add it to the chunky soup and stir to combine.
If you like, you can puree the whole batch of soup; I like it smooth, with some texture.
Serve warm and garnish with chopped chives and marjoram sprigs. Chopped parsley, basil leaves and tarragon would compliment as well.
Top with “grilled cheese croutons” – and some extra garlic if you like (see recipe.)
* I’ve used 2, 28 ounce cans of Italian San Marzano whole plum tomatoes. Strain the juice (puree) and reserve 3 cups – use remainder for another recipe.
Gently remove seeds and juice from the tomatoes, squeeze dry, and coarsely chop them – you will have 2 cups of chopped tomatoes.
Grilled Cheese Croutons:
2 slices sour dough bread, or your favorite (crusts removed)
2 slices aged cheddar cheese (to fill the bread)
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 small garlic cloves, peeled, thinly sliced
A pinch of sea salt
Add the olive oil to a small 8″ skillet. Set heat to low and add the garlic. Leave to flavor the oil for 5 minutes – do not color the garlic. Remove the garlic to a plate and reserve.
Top a slice of bread with the cheese; add the other slice of bread and press down.
Add the sandwich to the skillet, then turn over with a spatula so both sides of the bread are equally oiled. Raise the heat to medium and cook until golden and crispy and golden, about 3 minutes, turn over and repeat.
Place the sandwich on a cutting board. Let cool 5 minutes, then cut into even 3/4″ squares.
Serve on the hot tomato soup. May top the soup with the reserved garlic.