This easy tomato soup from Ina Garten (aka The Barefoot Contessa), made with canned tomatoes, onion, garlic, stock, orzo, cream, and topped with grilled cheese croutons, is as simple and comforting as soup gets.
Ina Garten (perhaps better known as The Barefoot Contessa) dubs this recipe “Easy Tomato Soup” and it’s no lie. It comes together from scratch with barely more effort than heating up some Campbell’s—and we don’t think we explain how what results is way worth that teensy added investment. She serves it with the ingenious embellishment of grilled cheese croutons, which is essentially tending to your inner 7-year-old in the most satisfying way we know how.–Renee Schettler
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups (2 onions) chopped yellow onions
- 1 tablespoon (3 cloves) minced garlic
- 4 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
- One (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes preferably San Marzano
- Large pinch saffron threads
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt or less to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup orzo uncooked (optional)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Grilled Cheese Croutons
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes and their juices, saffron, 1 tablespoon salt (or, if you prefer, start with 2 teaspoons), and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil and then lower the heat and gently simmer for 15 minutes.
- If using the orzo, fill a medium pot with water, add 2 teaspoons salt, and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 7 minutes, until almost but not quite completely al dente. Drain the orzo and add it to the soup.
- Stir the cream into the soup, return it to a gentle simmer, and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently. (You can refrigerate the soup and gently reheat it before serving.)
- Serve the soup hot with the grilled cheese croutons scattered on top or, if you have a picky eater who doesn't like things to touch, simply serve the croutons on the side.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
In my family, this is always how we serve our grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. There’s really nothing better than a bite-sized piece of perfectly grilled sandwich soaked through with tomato soup. I’ve never made my own soup, but that’s all changed now. The flavor of the soup is fantastic. It’s rich, tomatoey, and a little bit sweet from those lovely golden brown onions.
I knocked the tablespoon of salt down to 2 teaspoons since I’m a bit sensitive to sodium. Since the sandwich soaks up quite a bit of the liquid part of the soup, the solid parts in the soup are kind of left behind in an oniony/orzo-y slurry. Maybe a buzz from an immersion blender would do the soup some good for the chunky texture-averse, like my husband.
Oh, one more thing: I don’t have a panini grill. I made the sandwiches on my ancient griddle and they were just fine.
As my husband’s 107-year-old grandma would say, “This is deeeelicious!” I was concerned that the soup was going to be too thin, but after adding the orzo, the soup becomes so luscious, thick, and satisfyingly wonderful. The Gruyère croutons were a huge hit and worked beautifully with the soup.
If you use homemade chicken stock, your salt level should be fine, but if you use store-bought, be judicious about adding the amount of salt suggested in the recipe. The soup still tastes great the next day, and I’m sure the day after that.
Make it and enjoy!
Originally published January 2, 2011