Tomato soup with cheese croutons

One final tomato recipe before summer tomatoes peter out – a creamy tomato soup, using just a few spoonfuls of cream. Potatoes give this soup its smooth, soothing texture. Add some crisp cheesy croutons and you have yourself a warm bowl of comfort food. Serves 4.

Tomato soup with cheese croutons

  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ (quarter) cup finely sliced celery
  • 1 clove garlic, finely sliced
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 8oz. potatoes, peeled and diced
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of cumin seeds
  • 1 ¼ (one and a quarter) lbs. red ripe tomatoes
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 1-2 cups light vegetable or chicken stock, or water
  • 3-4 Tbs heavy cream

For croutons:

  • 4 thin slices bread
  • soft butter
  • very thinly sliced cheese, such as cheddar or Gruyere
  • another pinch of cumin seeds

In a heavy pan, slowly soften onion, celery and garlic in butter for 5 minutes. Add diced potatoes, salt and pepper, a pinch of cumin. Sweat vegetables in a covered pan for 10 minutes, stirring once in a while.

Meanwhile blanch and peel tomatoes. Prop a sieve over a jug. Tear tomatoes open, holding them over the sieve-topped jug, to collect all their seed and juice. Add torn tomato bits and basil to the soup pan. Mash tomato seeds in sieve, pressing every bit of juice into the jug, and add juice to soup pan, too.

Simmer soup, covered, for 25 minutes or until potatoes are very soft, adding a little stock or water if necessary. Purée half the soup in a blender, then add remaining soup and blend smooth. Thin with stock to a light creamy consistency and check seasoning.

To finish soup: Make the croutons. Brush bread slices on one side with soft butter. Cover unbuttered side of half the bread slices with very thinly sliced cheese—cheese parings—and season with a few cumin seeds. You want just a thin layer of cheese. Cover with remaining bread slices, buttered side out. Toast bread over moderate heat on a heavy frying pan – a cast-iron pan is ideal – until crisp and nicely browned on both sides. (Or toast bread on a baking pan in a hot oven.) Cool slightly before slicing bread into large croutons – slice it too soon and cheese may ooze.

Meanwhile reheat the soup and stir in most of the cream. Ladle into bowls, add a final drizzle of cream and top with croutons.

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