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Tomato Basil Soup with Brioche Croutons
INGREDIENTS - TOMATO BASIL SOUP
- 4 pounds tomatoes, heirloom, roma, or any mixture
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 small sweet onion, chopped
- 1 cup water, vegetable sock or chick stock
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/4 cup crème fraîche, half and half, or milk
- 4-6 brioche slices
- 4 ounces aged cheddar cheese, grated
INGREDIENTS - PESTO
- 2 cups basil
- 1/4 cup walnuts, almonds or pine nuts
- 1/4 cup parmesan
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove
- Salt to taste
To make the pesto, combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until well combined.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tomatoes in half and gently squeeze out as many seeds as you can into a bowl without losing too much of the juice. Strain seeds and save juice. Place the tomato halves and the garlic on a parchment lined baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes until the skins have loosened. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Remove the skins and discard. In a soup pot, heat olive oil and cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic; cook for 5-10 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup to desired consistency. Add maple syrup and a pinch of chili flakes; taste and adjust salt and liquid if needed to your desired taste and consistency. Add 1/4 cup pesto into soup, taste and admire to your desired palate. For a little extra richness, stir in some creme’ fraiche or cream. Turn off heat and make croutons.
In a large skillet over medium heat, place 2-3 slices of brioche, add grated cheese followed by another slice of brioche. You’re making a big grilled cheese sandwich and then you will slice into small croutons. Cook until cheese is melted and bread is nicely toasted. Watch carefully as brioche will darken quickly, you may need to lower the heat. Cut into small 1-2 inch cubes.
Serve soup with croutons and fresh basil leaves.