Susquehanna Valley —
Creamy Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
Grilled Cheese Croutons (makes 60)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
6 thin slices sandwich bread
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar
To make the soup, heat the butter and olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over low heat. Add the onion, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Sprinkle with the flour to make a roux, and stir constantly for 3 minutes more.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and vegetable broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper, if necessary. Remove the soup from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor or blender. (Alternatively, puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender). Return the soup to the pot and stir in the cream. Reheat over low heat just until hot. Do not boil. Serves 6 to 8.
To make the croutons, heat a grill pan or a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Mash together the butter and thyme in a small bowl until well blended.
Spread one side of each of the bread slices with the thyme butter. Place 3 slices, butter side down, in the hot pan. Top each slice with the cheese, then the remaining bread slices, butter side up. Grill until the sandwiches are toasted and browned and the cheese has melted, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the sandwiches from the pan and allow them to cool slightly. Cut the sandwiches into 1-inch squares.
Serve the soup, accompanied by the Grilled Cheese Croutons.
(Recipe courtesy of "In the Kitchen with David -- comfort foods that takes you home," David Venable, qvc.com)