Thursday, March 14, 2013

Easy Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Croutons

I don't know what it's like where you are, but here in the Mississippi Valley it is unseasonably cold, I'm talking middle-of-winter cold.  At a time when I should be pressing my face against the glass of the local garden center, I am, instead, wearing two sweaters and standing over a big pot stirring soup. Perusing seed catalogs offering a wide variety of Heirloom Tomatoes put me in a powerful mood for tomato soup, so Ina Garten to the rescue with this wonderful, easy, fresh tasting recipe. It's from her latest cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof,
 and can be steaming in a bowl in a little over 30 minutes. This is my new go-to tomato soup recipe, but it had a trifle too much orzo for me, so the next time, I'd cut the amount to 1/3 or a heaping 1/4 cup.

Easy Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Croutons
From Foolproof by Ina Garten

3 tablespoons good olive oil
3 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 cups homemade chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Large pinch of saffron threads
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup orzo
1/2 cup heavy cream
Grilled Cheese Croutons to garnish

In a large pot, 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.

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