Saturday, January 28, 2012

Triple Tomato Soup + Toasted White Cheddar Crouton

Why let French onion soup have all the fun? So many soups are good served with that same crunchy, gooey crouton up on top. Here, boring old tomato soup gets a serious upgrade. The deep flavor of this soup comes from three tomato sources: the smokiness of roasted Roma tomatoes, the complexity of sun-dried tomatoes, and the sweetness of tomato paste. 

(Thinking back, I vividly remember that one of my favorite meals as a kid was grilled cheese and tomato soup. I'd dunk the grilled cheese into the soup, but I'd save the last bit of the sandwich to mop up the bowl. This recipe is a grown-up combination with the inelegant but essential 'dunk' built right into the dish.)

Triple Tomato Soup + Toasted White Cheddar Crouton
(Serves two as a meal or four as a starter)

5 large Roma tomatoes (peeled*)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon butter (divided)
1 sweet onion (thinly sliced, about 2 cups)
2 tablespoon brandy
1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup dry packed sun-dried tomatoes (sliced into 1/4-inch strips)
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup water
3 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (4 sprigs)

salt and pepper (to taste)
4 slices whole grain bread
1 cup shredded white cheddar

Turn oven's broiler on high. Slice peeled tomatoes lengthwise and place face-down on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush each tomato with olive oil and place under the broiler until the tomatoes start to blacken. (This should take eight to ten minutes; keep your eye on them.) Once they're done, set the baking sheet aside and allow the tomatoes to cool.
In a Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat one tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat. Once butter has melted, add the sliced onion. Allow the onion to sweat down and start to brown; this should take about 15 minutes. Add the brandy and the Worcestershire sauce to the pot and raise the heat to medium. Allow most of the liquid to evaporate, and then add the sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, water, broth, and the roasted Roma tomatoes. Smash the roma tomatoes against the side of the pot using the back of a wooden spoon. This produces a texture that matches well with the onion. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce to low. Allow soup to simmer, covered, for at least twenty minutes. Add fresh thyme, salt, and pepper just before serving.

To serve, slather toasted bread with melted butter. Turn your oven broiler on medium. Divide soup between two bowls, float slices of bread on top of the soup, and cover toast with the white cheddar. Place bowls under the broiler for two to three minutes or until cheese is bubbling. Serve immediately.
*One of my favorite kitchen tools is a serrated peeler. It allow you to peel soft skinned fruits like tomatoes without having to boil water and prepare an ice bath. It’s a real time-saver.


  1. I am going to give this a spin on Sunday for sure.

  2. Well, I just want to say that I am having a blast testing these recipes. These observations and notes are things I always think when making dishes and it is a lot of fun to be able to share them with you. This recipe was really tasty and some of the notes are the same as the corn chowder, but that may just be from the way I am used to reading recipes.

    Firstly, I went and bought a serrated peeler. I figure any simple kitchen tool that makes my easier is something I should look at purchasing. I have to say that the peeler is fantastic. I have a feeling it is something I am going to be using often, so thanks for the tip.

    With regards to the broiler, my oven only has a Hi and Low setting. So, for the skinned tomatoes I had it on hi and raised to rack to the top of the oven, which the recipe didn't specify. I figured if I am looking to blacken them a bit, the higher the better. For melting the cheese, it didn't matter so much as the result, but what I did was lower the rack to just under the half way point and broiled on high to start then turned it to low. No everyone will have this issue, so I am not sure how relevant it is.

    Before I broiled the tomatoes I skinned them (three cheers for the peeler) and de-stemed them. The roma's I had were a little larger and I thought removing the stem at the top of the tomato would reduce the chance of that portion being tough or bitter.

    Moving on, I used dry packed sun-dried tomatoes not those in oil. You hadn't specified either way so I went with what I thought best.

    Also in the ingredient list, what size of sweet onion? From the 2 cup measurement I assumed a medium to large but it would be nice to know ahead of time for when I went to the grocery store.

    At the end of the simmering I found the soup to be quite chunky. There are two ways I could see resolving that. Either I would need to chop the roasted tomatoes before putting them in the soup, which would give you a nice tomato in broth type of soup. Or it needed to be pureed at the end. I opted for the puree, but I am partial that way.

    One, small item and this is the same as the corn chowder, but when simmering, should it be covered or not?

    Lastly, was the exclusion of salt or pepper from the recipe. I will preface this by saying that I used a homemade bouillon which is lower in salt than most stocks, but I after tasting the soup I found it needed a little salt and pepper. Even a "salt and pepper to taste" would have been ok.

    Hope this helps, and I am making the nachos tomorrow night so expect my notes shortly after.



  3. the tomato soup was totally killer...I would change but one thing, I was not sure what you wanted me to do with the roasted tomatoes once I peeled them...the directions don't say to actually remove the skin. I found it clear to do so but maybe more explicit direction might help others. To chop, dice, puree or leave whole? I tried to picture the result based on the different option and I really finely diced it and I believe the result was correct. Puree might ruin the integrity of the toothsome bits and a large chop might be too much. Ooops, I just realized that I am writing the soup notes here in the wrong area...I hope that wont be a problem. If I remember correctly, there was no mention of S&P for the soup? The french onion approach with the onions and the crouton/cheese sealed the deal and made a comfort food fan of all of us. I hope this was helpful. I learned some new things and thank you again. You are a very creative cook/recipe master and I look forward to trying more, like the tofu almondine this week. Take care, let me know if you have more questions. Trevor

  4. Took both of your comments and made some improvements. Take aloof and see if I did it justice. Thank you so much for helping out here. I really appreciate much!

  5. I know you already have a bunch of testers for this, but it looks too delicious not to try!

  6. I have to say, I'm the odd reviewer out, here.

    I really wanted to love this soup. Lots of tomatoes, thyme, brandy, what could be better? But I really though that the finished product lacked tomato flavor. I was hoping that the intensity of the sun dried tomatoes and the tomato paste would make up for the blandness of the winter tomatoes, but that was sadly not the case. I am, however, stashing the recipe to use with garden tomatoes this summer.