Genius! Instead of plain old boring croutons, make grilled cheese and cut it into cubes for grilled cheese croutons. Makes the classic winter meal a little fancier and is completely amazing, especially if using fresh mozzarella, which I did.
Now this is a chunky soup, not like the creamy thick tomato soup that I usually make. I pureed the leftovers, though, and it was great and thick and creamy. You can really use any tomato soup you want for this and just make the grilled cheese croutons. Yum!
Another wonderful thing about this soup (especially for a working person) is that it’s something that can be made ahead and then heated up a little before dinner. Plus, it’s a one pot meal that’s pretty quick to put together, so if you don’t have much time to cook you can make this in less than an hour and be finished.
I just think Ina is genius for this grilled cheese crouton idea. If you want to make it fancier (like she did), add a pinch of saffron threads to the mix (like she did) or some basil towards the end of cooking.
Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons, from Ina Garten:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 big onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 quart vegetable broth (I use homemade)
- 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes pureed in a food processor or crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup white rice, parcooked (that means it should be 1/2 cup when it’s raw and you should cook it for about 12 minutes, instead of the usual 20)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Grilled cheese croutons (recipe to follow)
1. In a large soup pot (or Dutch oven!), heat the olive oil over medium heat.
2. Add the onions and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they’re golden brown. Then, add the garlic and cook for another minute.
3. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.
4. Bring the soup to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, cook the rice in a separate pot. After 12 minutes, add it to the soup.
6. Stir in the cream and return the soup to a simmer.
7. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until the rice is ready.
8. Ladle into bowls and top with grilled cheese croutons.
Grilled Cheese Croutons, also adapted from Ina Garten:
- 4 slices of good bread (and by good I mean homemade or bakery, not Wonderbread)
- 6 slices of your favorite cheese (fresh mozzarella for me!)
1. Heat your panini press.
2. Place two slices of the bread on the panini press and top each with three slices of cheese.
3. Cover with the other slices of bread and grill for about 5 minutes, until nicely golen brown.
4. Allow them to cool for about 5 minutes before cutting into 1-inch cubes.
If you don’t have a panini press, you can do these in the oven or even a non-stick pan. The panini press just makes it a bit easier.