Consider this a grown-up version of everyone’s childhood favorite, grilled cheese with tomato soup. Use San Marzano canned tomatoes, which are top-quality tomatoes packaged by many manufacturers in Italy, along with a little butter, and half-and-half. The croutons are made with crusty bread and cheddar, melted under the broiler.
|¼||cup (½ stick) butter|
|5||shallots, finely chopped|
|2||cans (28 ounces each) whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes, crushed in a bowl|
|2||cups vegetable stock|
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|4||slices Italian bread|
|1||cup grated cheddar|
1. In a soup pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes. Add tomatoes, all the juices in the can, and the stock. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove and discard the thyme.
2. Turn on the broiler and adjust a rack so it is 6 inches from the element.
3. In a blender, puree the soup in batches until smooth. Return to the pot and add the half-and-half, sugar, salt, and pepper.
4. On a rimmed baking sheet, toast the bread, watching it carefully, for 1 minute on a side or until golden. Remove the bread from the oven. Divide the cheese among the bread slices. Return the bread to the oven and toast it again, watching it carefully, for 2 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling. Halve and serve with the soup.