Austin recently suffered through Hurricane Hermine. (Nearly Kitty Hermione’s namesake!) Streets flooded, I got an extra day off work because my place of business flooded, schools closed, road signs under water, the whole nine yards. Hurricane Hermine was much kinder to Austin than she was to other parts of Texas, but her presence did put Austin in a tizzy. For example, some of Handsome’s coworkers couldn’t make it into work because of flooded roads. Some people lost power a few times. According to a friend’s Facebook status update, it seems everyone bought rubber rain boots from Target.
What did I do? I pretended that grey skies and 36 hours of rain meant it was cold outside, and I made soup.
There’s nothing more appropriate on a rainy day than grilled cheese and tomato soup. The iconic Campbell’s can has, Warhol-like, maintained a steady presence in my pantry for the last twenty or so years. It’s time, though, for something just as comforting, but a bit more sophisticated. You’ve all seen my post on grown-up grilled cheese. It’s time tomato soup grew up, too.
I turned to Cook’s Illustrated (as I always do) and was not disappointed. This recipe yields a creamy, rich, slightly spicy tomato soup with a deep, complex flavor. It’s just as satisfying as the stuff in the can, and just as good to dunk grilled cheese into, but it feels more adult. It’s ready for the boardroom, as opposed to the playroom.
A note: Cook’s Illustrated calls for blending the soup in a blender. I don’t have a blender, and my food processor a) is quite small and b) doesn’t process things too finely (as we found when attempting gazpacho). It’s great for salsa, but not so hot for soup. Instead, I broke out with my trusty immersion blender (mine is something like this) and it did the job beautifully.
Creamy Tomato Soup
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
You will need:
1/4 c. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes packed in juice (Their recipe calls for 2 cans, but I misread the recipe and used only one, with all other proportions the same, and it was delicious! A pretty big mistake, but it worked out fine and I didn’t even know my mistake until transcribing the recipe. Try it both ways!)
1 tbsp. brown sugar
3 large slices sandwich bread, crusts off, torn into small pieces
2 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. chopped chives
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large soup pot over medium-high heat until oil shimmers. Add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf. Cook until onions are softened, about three minutes.
Add tomatoes and juices. Use a potato masher to mash tomatoes until there are no large pieces left. Stir in sugar and bread; bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is completely absorbed, about five minutes. Discard bay leaf.
Use immersion blender, or blend soup in batches, until smooth, adding 1-2 tbsp. olive oil as you blend. Once soup is smooth, add chicken broth and bring soup to a boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, some chopped chives, and a grilled cheese sandwich.