It's been an eventful few days at our house, and not in a good way. Monday night Shane and I both came down with the dreaded 24-hour stomach bug. I can't remember the last time either of us was so sick, and to be frank, it stunk. There was no way either of us could get to the store to pick up Gatorade, ginger ale, or any of the other remedies we craved, so we picked up the phone and called my mom who came to the rescue with those things, plus some bland foods to get us on the road to recovery. After spending the entire day in bed yesterday, we're both finally starting to feel human again today, thankfully. Now I just need to disinfect every surface of this house, and hope it's the last we'll see of this bug for a long time!
Had I been feeling up to it, I would have shared this soup with you yesterday (and yes, the secret is out, I don't write/schedule blog posts in advance :) ) Tomato soup and grilled cheese is one of my go-to comfort food meals in the winter, and I've been eager to try this recipe for quite a while. As you've probably already gathered from the title, there isn't any cream in this soup - instead, the recipe calls for sandwich bread. The bread thickens the soup and gives it a smooth, creamy texture. The ingredient list is short, and really allows the flavor of the tomatoes to shine. A full recipe makes enough to serve 6-8 people so you'll likely have leftovers, and they reheat perfectly for a quick and easy lunch or dinner another day.
I never eat tomato soup without grilled cheese, and I'd seen the idea for these grilled cheese croutons floating around over the past year. It's basically just a grilled cheese sandwich cut into tiny squares, but they sure do look good in the soup :) I toasted my bread before making the grilled cheese, hoping it would be a bit more sturdy. The "croutons" did still get soggy if they sat in the soup too long, so I found it best to add just a few at a time. I really enjoyed the way they soaked up the flavor of the soup. I could easily eat this every day over the course of a long winter!
Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup
from Cook's Illustrated
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
pinch red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
2 (28-oz) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 large slices good-quality sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Mix in the tomatoes and their juice. Using a potato masher, mash the tomatoes to break them down into smaller pieces (no bigger than 2 inches). Stir in the sugar and bread then bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
Turn off the heat under the pot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and puree the soup with an immersion blender (or, if you don't have one, in a traditional blender - you'll probably want to do it in 2 or 3 batches. Split the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the batches as you puree.) You can strain the soup through a fine-mesh strainer if you want a perfectly smooth consistency. Stir the chicken broth into the soup and return the soup to a boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the chives when serving.