My day has been filled with sewing, harry potter, a lot of hot chocolate and a trip to the local garden centre to look at the Christmas decorations. I also popped down to Dickensian evening which basically means the town turns into a Charles dickens novel. Okay, so not quite, but they shut off the road there’s stools with tombola’s, crafts, cakes, candyfloss, sausage butties, mulled wine, lots of mulled wine and everyone’s dressed like they’re from the 1800’s. I will say I found it a lot more exciting when I was younger whether that’s because it was better back then or I was just more amused as a child I’ll never know. But on to the food, what we're really here for. I could talk about these croutons all day, so I’d probably be repeating myself a lot but I think I’m officially in love. Cheesy bite sized garlic bread croutons, why have I never thought of this before and I never thought I’d be a “soggy croutons in my soup” kind of person but I was so wrong. I did just give myself more work though, because every time I eat soup I will need these croutons. on the bright side, they're pretty quick to whip up. Did I just stomp all over the soup by bigging up the croutons too much? because this soup is delicious I just can’t stop thinking about those darn croutons. If you ever thought tomato and basil soup was bland make this, then add sautéed onions and bacon, as much bacon as you want...and did I mention croutons? But seriously, homemade soup is so yummy, tomato and basil is hands down my favourite and definitely worth the little effort it takes to make.
This soup is also the perfect thing to eat after being out in the cold and even though it’s not freezing cold tonight it’s still ridiculously yummy, especially with a bowl full of croutons. Okay, I'll shut up about the croutons!
For the tomato & basil soup
6 medium-large tomatoes
2 gloves garlic
1 medium-large potato (11oz)
1 litre/4¼ cups of vegetable stock
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp tomato puree
Salt, pepper, dried parsley & dried basil
Handful of fresh basil
For the garlic & cheese croutons
2 tbsp butter
3 gloves garlic, crushed or grated
½-⅔ large ciabatta
70g strong cheddar cheese, grated
You will also need
2-4 slices of bacon
Heat a large saucepan on the hob with a dash of oil, chop the tomatoes and onion into large chunks and add to the pan with the garlic. Peel and chop the potato into large chunks. Once the onion has softened add the stock, potato, ketchup, tomato puree, salt, pepper and dried herbs to the saucepan and stir. Leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes until the potato has softened.
While the soup is cooking slice the onion and bacon and fry until the onion has softened and the bacon is cooked and slightly crispy.
To make the croutons preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6
Mix the butter, garlic and parsley in a large bowl and melt in the microwave. Cut the ciabatta into small squares and place in the bowl with the melted butter, mix until all the bread is evenly coated. Pour the bread onto a baking tray and top with grated cheese. Cook in the oven for 8-10 minutes until the cheese has melted and croutons are crispy.
Once the soup has finished cooking, blend until smooth then add the fresh basil and pulse until blended. Spoon the soup into bowls and top with the bacon, onions and croutons with extra croutons on the side.
Crouton word count:15