Tomato Soup with Grilled Gouda Croutons

May 20, 2011 § 2 Comments

E: Hello and welcome to Nombudsman, the one man show. Joanna is off at a conference for a few days, so I’m here holding down the fort, trying to get a post out on time (and failing, if I remember correctly when the last post went up). In any case, I’ve put together a post on a homemade tomato soup that she and I cooked together about a month ago. I am not a tomato soup fan, and I never really have been. My father loves the classic combination of tomato soup and grilled cheese, however, so this was really done with him in mind. That said, I found this to be very far removed, in a good way,  from any tomato soup I’d had previously (with one exception:  the Harvest, in Cambridge, makes a tomato soup that, to my tastes, destroys this one, but I couldn’t tell you what they did exactly to make it different).

how tomato soup should be

I loved it. Joanna did too. For sure, there are some things we would do differently next time, but the freshly roasted tomatoes make the soup really bright and flavourful. And, if you are reading this and don’t have the time to cook up a fresh tomato soup tonight, take my advice and create yourself a smoked gouda grilled cheese. After making them for this, thinking they would be an interesting contrast to the soup, I cannot fathom why we hadn’t done grilled cheese like that before.

And so, it is about time to begin. For those of you planning to make this, let me just point out a few things. The recipe uses a tiny amount of cream, and I’ll keep it that way below. However, if your tomatoes are as large as mine, you may need to scale up the cream quite a bit. We both felt the soup could have used a little more. My suggestion is to start with the recommended amount and add little-by-little to taste. Also, the original recipe says to sieve the soup to remove the bits that weren’t blended smooth. Call it lazyness or “texture,” but I didn’t bother and it came out fine. It was certainly not a smooth soup, but I eat lots of blended soups and it didn’t put me off. If I were making this for company, however, I would sieve it just to make it that much more impressive.

You pretty much need an immersion blender to make this recipe easy, but I’m sure a blender/food processor would work, you might just have to get creative with blending in batches and mixing back together.

The original from Crepes of Wrath:

8-9 large tomatoes, cored (what “large” means is up for debate, ours were HUGE)
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 shallot, quartered
~1 tsp salt
~1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
~1 tbsp olive oil
4 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade
4 leaves fresh sage, chiffonade
1/4 c. heavy cream
1/4 tsp. sugar (or a little more, to taste)
salt and pepper, to taste

For the grilled cheeses:

12 slices of a baguette
Butter
Enough cheese for 6 mini grilled-cheeses (pick your favorite, but smoked gouda comes highly recommended)

Alright, start by getting your vegetables roasted. Preheat your oven to 375F. Peel the cloves of garlic, and make them into a little foil packet, covered in salt and black pepper and drizzled with a little olive oil. We didn’t measure how much of any of those ingredients we used when making the packets, but I included the original measurements above for convenience.

garlic, in a packet

Peel and quarter the shallot, and make it a little roasting packet too.

shallots, in a packet

See those huge tomatoes? That’s why our soup needed more cream (take a look at the original recipe and you’ll see the difference in size). Wash and core the tomatoes, and set them on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and then sprinkle salt and grind pepper over them.

ready for roasting

These are now ready for roasting. When your oven is set, make some space on the tray to put the two foil packets (or just put them on a rack) and put the garlic, shallots, and tomatoes into the oven. Roast for about 35 minutes, or until the garlic is golden and the tops of the tomatoes are just beginning to char.

daintily chiffonade the herbs

Chiffonade the herbs for the soup and garnish. We did compensate here with another leaf or two, due to the size of my tomatoes. The pictured knife was not really sharp enough to chiffonade things cleanly, but I’m satisfied with the results anyway.

the makings of many small grilled cheeses

Since you are probably still waiting for things to come out of the oven, start working on your grilled cheeses. Cut up your slices of baguette (or some other bread, but if you choose that option then you are on your own, these instructions are for baguettes only!), slice up enough cheese, and start heating up a small skillet. Melt some butter in the skillet when it gets hot, place a bit of butter on each baguette slice, and lay an even number down on the surface. Then add butter on top of each one, so when they get flipped there will be plenty of butter in the pan. (Feel free to decrease the amount of butter, but you do want to make sure there’s enough that the bread gets browned without getting dry:  we went a little overboard because we don’t have this often so we figured, why not?)

with enough butter . . .

When one side is done (you could even go darker than pictured below), flip half of the slices, add the cheese, and place the other slices on top. Now you should have a buttered surface getting cooked, and another one on top, waiting. When one side is done, flip the whole sandwich over. By the time it is done the cheese should have melted a bit.

these are really worth eating on their own

You’ll end up with some wonderful little grilled cheeses. By now your roasting should be complete, so whenever it is just take things out of the oven and turn it off. If you finished the grilled cheeses, put them in the still-warm oven until you are ready to serve.

garlic and shallots after roasting

Unwrap the garlic and shallots and place them in a large (and I mean large) bowl. Also, add most of your herbs, retaining maybe one third for garnishing. Your tomatoes should look like this:

just out of the oven

Place them in the bowl too, and put it somewhere where splashes won’t matter (in the sink, in a bathtub, outside . . . be creative, though I suggest the sink option if it is available). Attack them with your immersion blender, and try not to lose as much as we did (I should really say “I,” as I did the blending and it is therefore my fault:  note to self, the Rambo approach to immersion blending does not work when the bowl is more than 3/4 full).

save yourself a mess and do this in the sink

When everything is pretty uniform, add the cream, and blend again to get it evenly mixed. Remember to add more to taste if necessary. Now would be a good time to sieve it if that is your plan. And add some salt and pepper to taste.

this really is an excellent soup

Cut up the grilled cheeses and serve as croutons. Garnish with remaining herbs. Deliciously tomato-y and delightfully fresh. Take that, canned soups!

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