Other soup posts: French Onion with Braised Short Ribs, Apple Cheddar with Bacon, Silken Gazpacho, Chicken Goulash with Biscuit Dumplings.

So apparently when I declared that I’d be posting a soup recipe every day this week, I did not mean Thursday or Friday. It’s been a crazy week; two trips into Manhattan, a baby home one day with a fever, an important appointment, and a field trip to buy wrapping paper. Not in that order. I’m still playing catch up, but I’m back on soup duty. With Ina Garten. Whom I adore.

A few years ago for my birthday, we went to see Anthony Bourdain give a live talk. He railed against celebrity cooks who are teaching America terrible kitchen habits. But he sung the praises of Ina Garten, giving her possibly the highest praise he could give a home cook, which was to say that “she cooks correct.” I completely agree. We are very much Team Ida around here, and some of my favorite go-to recipes are hers. If you haven’t made her shrimp scampi or chicken pot pie, you have not truly lived–go look at my old posts for a laugh over how terrible my photos used to be.

So I’m also a big fan of this soup, and of the complete genius of taking tomato soup’s natural soulmate–the grilled cheese sandwich–and turning it into croutons. I’ve made this a couple of times now, with and without the orzo. This makes a huge batch of soup, I’ve also halved it and gotten plenty of leftover soup. I like my tomato soup plain, but either way it’s delicious. And from her cookbook Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust. Indeed.

For the soup:
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
Large pinch of saffron threads
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup orzo
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the croutons:
4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices country white bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

In a large pot or Dutch oven such as Le Creuset, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.

tomatocroutons2Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, saffron, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a medium pot with water, add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 7 minutes. (It will finish cooking in the soup.) Drain the orzo and add it to the soup.


Stir in the cream.

tomatocroutons5Return the soup to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.


While the soup simmers, make the croutons. Heat a panini grill. Place the four slices of bread on a cutting board and brush lightly with the melted butter, being sure to butter the corners.


Turn the slices over and pile Gruyere on two of the slices. Place the remaining two slices of bread on top of the Gruyere, buttered sides up. Grill the sandwiches on the panini grill for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned.

tomatocroutons7(My cheese escaped).

Place on a cutting board, allow to rest for 1 minute and cut into 1-inch cubes.


Sprinkle on the soup.