Tomato soup is one of my favorites — so simple yet so delicious. And with the crazy April winter weather today (30 degrees? What?), this seemed about right. This version of the classic is particularly simple — you use canned (San Marzano) tomatoes, onion, garlic and stock, flavored with some saffron and toss in some orzo. The recipe doesn’t even call for pureeing it, though I did choose to do that since I like the creamy texture. Then, Ina Garten makes a genius move and turns the traditional grilled cheese pairing into — wait for it — grilled cheese croutons. Yes. It’s the perfect combo.
- I had some grape tomatoes hanging around that I wasn’t sure I’d use, so I roasted them in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes and added them to the mix
- I used an immersion blender to cream the mixture a bit before I added the cream — I like a silkier texture to the soup.
- The grilled cheese croutons are awesome but add them gradually as you eat if you don’t like the grilled cheese too soggy.
- If you don’t have a panini grill (I don’t) just use a frying pan for the grilled cheese, or a grill pan.
Simple Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 3 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
- 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
- Large pinch of saffron threads
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup orzo
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Grilled Cheese Croutons (see below)
In a large pot or Dutch oven such as Le Creuset, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, saffron, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a medium pot with water, add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 7 minutes. (It will finish cooking in the soup.) Drain the orzo and add it to the soup. Stir in the cream, return the soup to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.
Serve hot with Grilled Cheese Croutons scattered on top.
Grilled Cheese Croutons
- 4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices country white bread
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
Heat a panini grill. Place the four slices of bread on a cutting board and brush lightly with the melted butter, being sure to butter the corners. Turn the slices over and pile Gruyere on two of the slices. Place the remaining two slices of bread on top of the Gruyere, buttered sides up.
Grill the sandwiches on the panini grill for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Place on a cutting board, allow to rest for 1 minute and cut into 1-inch cubes.