Cannellini Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
A good tomato soup is so satisfying and so easy to make with basic, inexpensive pantry items. Canned tomatoes can really deliver that fresh-from-the-vine summer flavor. One can of cannellini beans pureed into the soup makes this a hearty, satisfying entree. Adds great protein, too. I often serve tomato soup with grilled cheese “spears” for dipping. For my last batch, I borrowed a clever idea from a witty new cookbook called “Bite Me”–grilled cheese croutons! What kid (or adult) wouldn’t love this?
Cannellini Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (rosemary is a potent herb so this is not one to go heavy on)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 grilled cheese sandwiches, cut into cubes (see note)
basil for garnish, optional
In a large pot, saute the onion and carrots in the olive oil until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes, stock, rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in a regular blender. I use an immersion blender which makes quick work of this task minimizes clean-up. Add the sugar and vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for a few minutes more. Garnish with grilled cheese croutons and basil, if desired.
For the grilled cheese croutons, I like to use Pepperidge Farm thin bread (I use whole wheat, but white is an option, too). I use 1-2 slices of Cooper sharp cheese–enough to cover the bread with one layer of cheese–and toast on my panini maker for three minutes. (The traditional stove-top method works fine, too.) This results in a crispy sandwich with just the right amount of gooey cheese–perfect for the croutons, or dipping spears if you prefer.