Several months ago one of my friends introduced me to a little sandwich shop where they specialize in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. They have all different kinds, such as a French Dip grilled cheese, a Monte Cristo grilled cheese, and even a Thanksgiving grilled cheese with turkey and mashed potatoes on it. The restaurant is called Cravings Bistro, and it’s in Pleasant Grove, Utah. So the first time I went there, I had one of their gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and some of their Creamy Tomato Basil soup. I thought it was so good, and since I didn’t have a recipe for a really good tomato soup, I decided I was going to try to duplicate the one at Cravings Bistro. I started off with a recipe by Barefoot Contessa, but I made several changes to it, including adding brown sugar because I liked how the soup from Cravings Bistro was sweeter than hers. I also used a food processor to blend up the ingredients just before serving it because I think it makes the soup look more appetizing. And guess what, my husband and I did a taste test with my soup and some of the soup from Cravings Bistro, and both of us thought mine was even better! But, shhhh, don’t tell them because theirs is really good, too!
At Cravings Bistro, they serve their Tomato Basil Soup with grilled cheese croutons, so I decided to do the same thing for my photograph. To make the croutons, I just made regular grilled cheese sandwiches with good-quality bread, and then I cut off the crusts and cut the sandwiches into 1-inch squares. Then I put the squares on a baking sheet and toasted them in a 300-degree oven for five minutes. They were very tasty with the soup, too.
Recipe by Barefoot Contessa/Heavily Adapted by Winner Dinners/Inspired by Cravings Bistro
3 pounds Roma/plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt
1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2 cups onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce can) plum tomatoes, with their juice
2 ounces fresh basil, chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons dried crushed rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 (32-ounce container) chicken stock
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss together the tomatoes, carrots, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes and carrots in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.
In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, rosemary, thyme, chicken stock, and brown sugar. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes and carrots, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. In batches, process the soup in a food processor until well blended. Return the soup to the pot and heat through.