Over the last few years of honing my cooking skills, I've noticed how even the smallest of changes can make a big difference. This includes how things are cut. When you make a potato salad and dice the celery and onions really small, it tastes different than when they're rough chopped. We make fun of kids for having their sandwiches cut diagonally instead of straight in half, yet it does change the experience they have eating it. The same principle applies here.
Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
Serves 4 Adults
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes (with green chiles)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
1 tblsp dried basil
dash of ground cayenne pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream, optional
12 slices of sharp cheddar
12 slices of white bread
spreadable butter for grilling
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Strain the chopped canned tomatoes, reserving the juices, and spread onto a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, to taste, drizzle with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and roast until caramelized, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat remaining olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic, cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the roasted chopped canned tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, vegetable broth, bay leaf, basil, cayenne and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add cream, if using. Puree with a hand held immersion blender until smooth.
The simple explanation for the croutons is this:
Make a double-decker grilled cheese. Cut the crusts off then cut into 4x4's. Place in the soup and eat!
The long explanation goes like this:
Before eating (or reheating) soup, begin making the grilled cheese croutons.
For each serving, you'll use 3 pieces of bread and 3 pieces of cheese. Butter one side of 3 pieces of bread. Place first slice butter-side down in a large skillet over medium heat on the stove, then lay two pieces of cheese over it then place the other piece of bread butter-side up. When first side is browned and the cheese is starting to melt, flip the sandwich over with a spatula. Then add another piece of cheese on the top and the last slice of bread butter-side up. Once the other side is browned, flip again. When the grilled cheese is done, cut off the crusts, then cut into 4 sections each way, so it creates little cubes. Place onto the hot soup and eat!
Some tasty variations:
Havarti and Thyme on Multigrain with Creamy Potato Soup
Goat Cheese on Sourdough with Creamy Fennel Soup