When I think about food combinations, there are just so many that are near and dear to my heart:
Peanut butter and banana
Pretzels and cheese
Chips and salsa
Cheese and wine
Chocolate and peanut butter
Cookies and milk
Spaghetti and meatballs
Every time I indulge in one of these pairings, I think to myself, “this has to be the BEST combination ever”. It’s almost as if I have food amnesia, since I have a tendency to credit what I’m eating at that moment to be the best. But this time is different. I’ve considered the past, and I can honestly say, THIS is the BEST combination: ROASTED TOMATO BASIL SOUP with GRILLED CHEESE CROUTONS. It’s something about the way the crispy and cheesy crouton pieces absorb the hearty soup and turn slightly soggy.
I’ve made several tomato soups in my day, and this is by far the best I’ve had. I largely attribute the caliber of this soup to the red wine, balsamic vinegar, and of course, fresh tomatoes. I used good wine, and my rationed balsamic that I brought back from Italy, which I can only think made it that much better. Don’t overlook the grilled cheese croutons; they make an inviting presentation that is equally delicious. Plus, without them, this wouldn’t be the BEST combination ever.
Roasted Tomato Basil Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
What You Need
- 3-4 lbs plum tomatoes
- 1 yellow onion, large dice
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled (4 left whole for roasting and 2 minced for sauteeing)
- 4 tbs olive oil, divided
- 1/3 cup dry red wine
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 6oz can tomato paste
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped (and some extra set aside for garnish)
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Grilled Cheese Croutons
- 4 pieces whole wheat bread, crust cut off
- Cheese of your choice: I used cheddar and pepper jack
- Butter or olive oil spray
What To Do
- Preheat oven to 375. Cut plum tomatoes lengthwise and cut the onion into large chunks. Lay the tomatoes, onions, and 4 garlic cloves onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 50 min to 1 hour and allow to cool.
- Once the roasted tomato/onion/garlic mixture has cooled a bit, transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
- In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, add 1 T olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Cook about 1-2 minutes until garlic is fragrant.
- Pour in the pureed tomato mixture and cook about 5 minutes. Then add the tomato paste, chopped basil, red wine, chicken stock and balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to come to a boil and then reduce to low and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.
For the grilled cheese
- Spread a very thin layer of butter or olive oil on both sides of bread.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Place the bread in the pan so it can get crispy on one side. Once brown and slightly crisp on that side, flip the bread and add the cheese to the crispy side. Allow the cheese to melt while the other side of the bread gets crispy. Once cheese is melted, put the slices together to make two sandwiches. Continue to cook, flipping as needed until the cheese is completely melted and bread is desired amount of crispness.
- Remove sandwiches from pan and allow to cool for a few minutes. Cut the sandwiches into crouton sized pieces and serve along with the hot tomato soup.