Monday, November 2, 2009

Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

It is the end of autumn in Minnesota, which means... it's soup weather. There is nothing on a cold, blustery day to warm you from the inside out like a bowl of hot, homemade soup or stew. This soup is a grown-up version of tomato soup and grilled cheese. It's sweet and salty and the roastiness from the peppers makes it a lot more interesting than tomato soup from a can.

Soup Ingredients:

2 TBS olive oil
1 medium to large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 small jars of roasted red peppers
2 15 oz cans of plain tomato sauce (I really like Hunts or Trader Joe's brand)
2 TBS sugar
several grinds of black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

"Crouton" Ingredients:

sliced white bread
cheese of choice
grated or finely shredded parmesan cheese

In large pot, brown onions in the olive oil until they start to caramelize a little. Add garlic and stir just until the garlic begins to get a little toasty colored. Add tomato sauce and roasted red peppers (include the juice from the peppers; this adds flavor and also helps thin the soup out a bit). Stir well. Bring to simmer and let gently boil for about 5-10 minutes. Blend soup in blender or food processor (I use a stick/immersion blender... well worth the money) until pureed. Add sugar and black pepper to taste. Soup probably won't need extra salt unless your tomato sauce isn't very salty, but you may need to add a little depending on your ingredients. If desired, you can finish off the soup with 1/2 cup cream or half and half. It doesn't need it, but it does add a nice silky finish to the soup. I usually don't use it.

For croutons, basically assemble one to two grilled cheese sandwiches (one sandwich will make croutons for two people). Butter the outsides liberally. Dip sandwiches in grated parmesan, and grill over medium heat in a frying pan as you would any grilled cheese. When done, cut into cubes with a knife and sprinkle over the top of the soup.