- 2 30 ounce cans of Tomatoes. Either crushed, whole or one of each
- 3 -4 cups chicken stock ( I recommend Kitchen Basics)
- 2 sticks celery, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/8 tsp cayenne powder
- bay leaf
- salt & pepper
- 2tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup heavy cream or 2% greek yogurt (Fage works best)
For the croutons
- 2 thick slices of your favorite hearty bread.
- cheddar, gruyere, & goat cheese
If using whole tomatoes, halve then drain & reserve the liquid. Remove basil leaf, if any.
Melt the butter in a dutch oven (or stainless sauce pot) over medium to medium high heat. Saute the onion celery & carrot with salt until the onion starts to brown, deglazing the pan a few times with an ounce or 2 of the stock. Once the mixture is adequately caramelized, remove it from the pan and set aside, deglazing the pan with once more to remove any residual browned bits.
Return the pot to the heat & add the tomatoes, stirring with with the spatula until browned and thickened. this will add flavor and remove the "canned" taste. Add the onion mixture back to the to pot along with the paprika, cayenne, black pepper. Stir in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add the bay leaf and let simmer for 60-90 minutes or longer (like many things, longer tends to be better. Sigh). Remove from heat, discard the bay leaf and blend the soup until smooth, blending in the cream just prior to serving.
Dry out the bread slightly by toasting on low. Add the cheese, maybe 1/4" thick and grill in a buttered frying pan until golden brown & crisp. Cut the sandwiches in to 1" cubes and serve over the soup.