Soup Swap: Kathy Gunst’s Tomato Soup with Grilled-Cheese Croutons

 Soup Swap: Kathy Gunsts Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese CroutonsWe’re celebrating the launch of Soup Swap: Comforting Recipes to Make and Share (Chronicle, 9/16) by Kathy Gunst, Resident Chef for NPR’s “Here and Now,” with bloggers across the country for #SoupSwapParty hosted by BookClubCookBook.com. Soup Swap features over sixty amazing soup recipes along with side dishes, garnishes and toppings and offers a guide to creating soup swap gatherings, where guests bring a pot of soup, and taste and take home others.

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons —Gunst’s “ultimate comfort food” — appealed to us as the perfect Mad Men era soup recipe.

While hearty soup and sandwiches were 1960s staples, according to The Food Timeline,  Soup Swap: Kathy Gunsts Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutonspairing grilled cheese with tomato soup, was a post World War II institutional food service recommendation, designed to provide the required nutritional and protein elements in lunch.

Growing up the Mad Men era, a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, with two slices of Wonder Bread with Kraft American cheese, buttered and grilled in the Toastmaster was our usual version of this classic combo.

IMG 4021 Soup Swap: Kathy Gunsts Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese CroutonsThe Soup Swap rendition is far from our childhood one. Gunst uses fresh tomatoes, homemade vegetable broth (a great use for veggie scraps), with shallots, onion, leeks, and heavy cream, garnished with grilled cheese croutons (sliced cheddar and basil sandwiched in homemade bread and brushed with olive oil).  Why weren’t we dunking our grilled cheese in tomato soup all these years? This soup is a winner.

Thanks to Chef’s Choice we sharpened our knives with a Chef’s Choice Pronto Pro Diamond Hone  Soup Swap: Kathy Gunsts Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese CroutonsKnife Sharpener, which yielded perfect slices our tomatoes. leeks and onion and shallots. And for a true “grilled” cheese the Chef’sChoice® Cast Iron Professional Indoor Electric Grill Model 880 produced a grilled cheese was true to the sandwich’s name.

Congratulations Kathy Gunst on this terrific new book! We look forward to many soup swaps! You can follow Soup Swap bloggers on social media using #SoupSwapParty, and you’ll find their other delicious soup recipes from the cookbook on the Soup Swap Party page.

And finally a Mad Men soup quote— food for thought from Joyce Ramsay, Peggy’s friend and assistant photo editor at LIFE magazine:

Men are like this vegetable soup. You can’t put then on a plate or eat them off a counter. So women are the pot. They heat them up, hold them, contain them. Who wants to be a pot? Who the hell said we’re not soup?”

Soup Swap: Kathy Gunst’s Tomato Soup with Grilled-Cheese Croutons

Yield: 6 full servings; 8-10 tasting portions

IMG 4021 Soup Swap: Kathy Gunsts Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Tomato Soup with Grilled-Cheese Croutons from Soup Swap: Comforting Recipes to Make and Share (Chronicle, 9/16) by Kathy Gunst for #SoupSwapParty hosted by BookClubCookBook.com: bit.ly/SoupSwapBlogParty

Ingredients

  • 2 medium leeks
  • 11/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 2 lb [910 g] vine-ripened tomatoes
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups [960 ml] Vegetable Stock (page 34)
  • 1/4 cup [60 ml] heavy cream (optional)
  • Grilled-Cheese Croutons halved, for garnish
  • 1/3 cup [20 g] fresh basil, cut into very fine ribbons
  • 8 bread slices of any variety you like
  • 21/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup [80 g] freshly grated sharp cheddar, Parmesan, or other hard cheese

Instructions

  1. To make the soup: Trim off the dark green sections from the leeks and save for making vegetable stock. Halve the pale green and white sections lengthwise. Rinse under cold running water, pat dry, and cut crosswise into thin pieces.
  2. In a large stockpot over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the leeks, onions, and shallot and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cut a small X in the stem end of each tomato. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and blanch them for about 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a colander to drain. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin from the tomatoes, remove the core, and coarsely chop the flesh.
  4. Add the tomatoes to the stockpot, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to high, add the vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  5. Using a food processor or blender and working in batches or using a handheld immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Return the soup to the pot, add the cream (if using), and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. If the soup is too thin or watery, simmer for about another 10 minutes, until slightly thickened. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Ladle the soup into mugs or bowls and top each with 2 to 4 croutons or a half-slice of open-faced crouton, if you prefer. Garnish with the basil and serve.
  7. To make the croutons: Preheat the broiler. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Using half of the olive oil, lightly brush one side of each slice and broil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, flip the bread, and brush with the remaining oil. Top each slice with a basil leaf and sprinkle with an equal amount of cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
  8. When ready to serve, cut the bread in half and serve the crouton open-faced, or sandwich two pieces of bread together and cut each sandwich into six large or eight small croutons.

Notes

Make this soup in the summer and fall, when fresh garden tomatoes are available, but there are some “acceptable” winter-tomato substitutes such as good-quality organic canned tomatoes or hothouse-grown organic winter tomatoes. Add 1/2 teaspoon sugar with the tomatoes if you are preparing this soup in winter.

The croutons can be made about 1 hour ahead, but they are best when made at the last minute. Be sure to cool them before packing them in a tightly sealed container for transport.

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