Thick Tomato Soup with Parmesan Croutons
By: 
Dish Type: Soup
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Ingredient prep: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 6 bowls (2 quarts)
 
A sophisticated, Mediterranean take on a childhood classic, tomato soup and grilled cheese. Instead of flour and milk, the soup is thickened with filling white beans, and a few explosively flavorful parmesan croutons replace the giant grilled cheese sandwich. (Soup is vegan and gluten free without croutons)
Ingredients
  • 2½ T olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 C diced yellow onion (half a large onion)
  • 1½ t dried basil
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 4 C diced tomatoes with juice (no salt added; almost 3 cans)
  • ¼ t baking soda
  • 2½ C vegetable stock, broth, or water
  • 1½ C cooked white beans, drained
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 garlic clove (optional)
  • ¼ C parsley and/or basil leaves (optional)
Parmesan croutons
  • ¼ C olive oil
  • ½ C finely grated parmesan cheese (see the tutorial here)
  • ¾ t kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 heaping cups ½" fresh or slightly stale bread cubes
Make It
  1. In a medium pot or sauce pan (about 3 quarts), heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and dried basil and cook about 5 minutes, until onion is soft. Stir in tomato paste for a minute or two until blended, then add diced tomatoes, baking soda, stock, and beans, and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and cover, and simmer the soup for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. While soup simmers, mince the garlic and fresh herbs together, if using, and set aside. Remove soup from heat and cool slightly, then blend in batches or with an immersion blender until smooth. Return soup to the pot to keep warm over low heat, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, black pepper, the herb mixture, and parmesan croutons.
Croutons
  1. Preheat oven to 400 (F). Mix oil, parmesan, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper to form a paste in a small bowl. In a mixing bowl, toss bread cubes with the cheese paste. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer with as little space as possible between cubes. Bake for 5 minutes on the middle rack, then stir and bake another 5 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. If some of the croutons stick together, that's fine (and encouraged)! Cool for a few minutes, break apart most of the croutons, and serve a handful over each bowl of soup.
Notes
Soup adapted from The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison.

Baking soda allows the tomato flavor to come through, while reducing acidity.

Without the croutons, the soup is vegan and gluten free.
Recipe by Natural Comfort Kitchen at http://www.naturalcomfortkitchen.com/thick-tomato-soup-with-parmesan-croutons/