Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Tomato Bisque with Homemade Croutons

There is nothing more homey and comforting than a hot bowl of soup on a cold day.  Tomato soup has long been a favourite here in our home (and is pretty much the only soup all of my kids can agree on).  A couple of cans of tomato soup and some grilled cheese are a go-to last minute supper idea here often.  But one gets tired of canned soup.  

This recipe is an easy way to get that comfort with a small amount of time and energy.  It has a creamy texture, hidden veggies and a richness to it as well.  It's not a thick soup but it definitely hit the spot and a wonderfully fresh taste.

I found inspiration for this soup in Trisha Yearwood's new cookbook, 'Trisha's Table: My Feel-Good Favorites For A Balanced Life'.  I, of course, knew that Trisha is a big name in country music and married to Garth Brooks but I had also heard that she loved to cook so I opted to give her new cookbook a try. Filled with beautiful colourful pictures to delight the inner foodie in you (as well as many personal, family pictures to give it a very personal feel) this book has everything from appetizers, soups, meats and even some delicious desserts.  There are many meatless and vegan options thrown into the mix too.

The recipe below is my rendition of Trisha's recipe due to a few factors including what I had on hand and personal tastes.

1/4 cup butter
1 medium onion - diced
1 medium carrot - peeled and diced
1 celery stalk - diced
4 large garlic cloves - minced
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
5 cups vegetable stock (I used chicken stock)
2 (19oz) cans of fire-roasted tomatoes (with juices)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups half and half (for Non-Canadians this means half creamer, half milk)

Garnish - salt, pepper and homemade croutons

4 slices of day-old bread
1 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

Prepare Croutons
Butter bread slices on both sides.  Sprinkle with garlic powder and salt.  Cut each bread slice into small bites.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add bread cubes and cook until lightly browned.

Prepare Soup
Heat a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add butter.  Once butter has melted add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.  Sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the flour browns slightly - about 2 minutes.

Add the stock, tomatoes (with their juices), thyme and bay leaf.  Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in the half and half and let it low simmer for 10 minutes (do not allow it to boil!).  Remove and discard the bay leaf.

Using a hand blender or working in batches, pour the soup into a large blender or food processor and blend on high until very smooth.  Ladle soup into individual bowls and garnish with homemade croutons.

Inspired by: 'Trisha's Table' by Trisha Yearwood - Tomato Bisque with Homemade Croutons (p 74-75)

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