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Spicy Tomato Soup With Grilled Cheese Croutons

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Combine Forces For One Epic Bowl

Like peanut butter and jelly, lamb and mint, or strawberry and rhubarb, tomato soup and grilled cheese were practically made to be paired with each other. Here, I've taken the combination one better and — inspired by the always charming and ingenious Ina Garten — melded two solid concepts (tomato soup with grilled cheese, and a crispy crouton garnish) to create a dish that really, truly may just blow your mind.

This combination is pretty darn hard to beat — like a comforting hug in a bowl — but is admittedly a bit indulgent. For days when you're looking for something a little less over the top, omit the grilled cheese croutons, and garnish per usual, adding a swirl of extra-virgin olive oil and an extra pinch of red pepper flakes if you can handle the heat. Either way, this classic tomato soup is a soul-soothing must make.

Spicy Tomato Soup With Grilled Cheese Croutons

Adapted from Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition by Barbara Lynch and Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust by Ina Garten

Notes

If you have a panini press, use it to cook the grilled cheese croutons (it should take about five minutes). The grill marks add a nice touch. If you have a high-powered blender (like a Vitamix), straining the soup isn't necessary; just blend until silky smooth.

Spicy Tomato Soup With Grilled Cheese Croutons

Ingredients

  1. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 1 small yellow onion, peeled, halved, and sliced thinly
  3. 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  4. 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
  5. 1 1/2 cups water
  6. 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  7. About 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  8. About 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or to taste
  9. 4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices rustic white bread
  10. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  11. 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
  12. Neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
  13. Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, are beginning to brown, and are very tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, plus the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Add the basil, salt, and balsamic vinegar, remove from the heat, and let cool briefly, about 5 minutes.
  3. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large, heatproof bowl. Using a blender, puree the soup in batches until smooth. Pour the blended soup through the strainer, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula or ladle; discard the solids. Taste the soup, and season to taste with additional salt and vinegar as needed.
  4. Brush melted butter on one side of each slice of bread, making certain to cover the entire surface with butter. Turn the slices over, and pile Gruyère on two of the slices. Place the remaining two slices of bread on top of the Gruyère, buttered sides up.
  5. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat, barely coat the pan with a drizzle of neutral oil, and cook the grilled cheeses for about 2 minutes per side, or until the cheese has melted and the bread is crusty and deep golden brown. For the best results, press down on the grilled cheeses with a second cast-iron skillet to mimic a panini press while they cook.
  6. Allow the grilled cheeses to rest for a minute or two, and then cut into square crouton-sized pieces. Reheat the soup as necessary, ladle into bowls, and garnish with a chiffonade of basil, grilled cheese croutons, and freshly cracked black pepper.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry
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