When Jenn of Jenn’s Cuisine and Barb of Creative Culinary talked about rallying the food blogger troops to share a bit of comfort in the wake of Sandy, I marched my stilettos in the kitchen to whip up something that was warm, comforting and something I’d share with my friends, family and neighbors. To me, when I’m in need of a foolproof comfort dish, I often whip out one of my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and look for inspiration.
In her latest book, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust, there was a plethora of recipes that I bookmarked, from her chocolate chip blondies, penne alla vecchia bettola (vodka pasta), crispy mustard chicken, and her pumpkin spice cupcakes with maple frosting, but one recipe I kept flipping to over and over was her easy tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons.
Tomato soup and I have had a rough patch since my childhood. Growing up, I hated – stress HATED – tomato soup (and, also, tomato juice) and would not touch a bowl of tomato soup with a ten foot spoon. My mother adored the stuff – me, notsomuch. As I got older, I still refused to have anything to do with tomato soup until one time in Florida, a friend was visiting and she made grilled cheese and tomato soup. I begrudgingly admitted that, perhaps, I showed tomato soup the boot too soon but I rationalized that, perhaps, maybe it was just the grilled cheese. I mean how could anything suck with grilled cheese, right?
Y’all know this has been the year of facing my culinary fears so I figured that it was time for me and the tomato soup to have a come to Jesus. This recipe was the perfect recipe for whipping up a bowl of comfort. The fire roasted tomatoes, thyme and smoked paprika did a wonderful flavor dance with the onion and cream. The red pepper flakes added a dash of heat and the grilled cheese croutons took it over the top! To add to everything, I reduced the stock amount a bit and blended everything with the immersion blender and it was thick and luscious, accented by the perfectly cooked orzo. This fire roasted tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons is a tried and true, perfect for those chilly days where you want to curl up with a steaming mug of soup on the couch.
Gather the ingredients
Look at the golden hue on the onion
Time to break out the immersion blender.
And add a bit of cream
Showing the Panini press some luv with these Grilled Cheese Croutons
Now tell me you wouldn’t love a bowl of this!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
- 3-4 cups of chicken stock (depending on how thick you want your soup)
- 1 28 oz. can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes (I adore Muir Glen)
- ½ teaspoon of fresh thyme (1 – 2 sprigs)
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ cup orzo
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 4 slices of your favorite bread (I used sourdough)
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
- 4 slices of sharp provolone
- 4 ounces of fontina cheese, grated
- Over medium heat, heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed stock pot or dutch oven.
- Add the onions and sauté for about 10 minutes until they turn a nice golden hue.
- Add the minced garlic and sauté for another minute or so.
- Add the thyme, smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper and red pepper flakes to the onion garlic mixture and sauté for another minute to bloom the spices.
- To the onion mixture, add a bit of chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Add the crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, thyme, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
- Let the tomato mixture come to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat so that it simmers for about 15 minutes.
- While the tomato mixture is simmering, to a medium saucepan of boiling water, add a bit of kosher salt and the orzo. Let the orzo cook for 7 minutes, drain and set aside.
- At the end of 15 minutes, blend the tomato mixture with an immersion blender, food processor or blender and return to the pan.
- Add the cooked orzo and the heavy cream, stir and let simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Preheat your Panini press or grill pan.
- Lay out the bread on a cutting board and brush the sides with the melted butter.
- Flip over two pieces and to the unbuttered sides, layer a slice of sharp provolone, a bit of grated fontina and finish with another piece of sharp provolone.
- Place the remaining two slices on top of the cheese, buttered side up and place on the Panini press or grill pan.
- Grill until golden, remove and set on a cutting board for a minute to cool.
- Slice into "croutons".
- Ladle the thick soup into bowls and top with a couple grilled cheese croutons and enjoy!
How Can You Help?
Not only did Sandy ravage the East Coast, but many of the residents that were already facing challenges from the hurricane were hit last night with a nor’easter that decided to blanket NY, NJ and CT with snow, rain and freezing temps. Think about if you didn’t have heat, hot water, electricity – many of the things we take for granted. Fact is – our neighbors need our help. I tear up at the news when I see neighbor helping neighbor because, quite frankly, we’re all in this together – no matter if you are here on the East Coast or the West Coast. As a community, we can make a difference.
If you can donate – even if it’s the amount of a morning coffee – every little bit helps. Three fabulous charitable organizations that are doing all that they can for the victims of Hurricane Sandy are:
If you want to join in on the conversation on twitter, you can use the hashtag #FBS4Sandy. Have a comforting dish that you want to provide on your blog? Jenn and Barb are keeping the link tool open on their posts through the end of November to link up the #FBS4Sandy posts. Check it out and see what some fabulous food bloggers made to share a bit of comfort.
[FTC Disclaimer: There are affiliate links contained within this post. Any revenue generated from the affiliate links in this post will be donated to the American Red Cross.]
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