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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fresh Tomato Soup with Whole-Grain Croutons

I had a request to share a low-cal, low-carb tomato soup, so I was on a mission to find one. Before anywhere else, I looked in my favorite new cook book Cooking to Conceive, and found this great recipe right here at home.  I remember seeing it when I bought the cookbook, because it was one of the recipes I was anxious to try.  Mission complete! This soup turned out GREAT and I paired it with a cool cucumber salad as a great lunch or dinner combo.

Since the soup was my focus, you'll see the salad recipe second.

Fresh Tomato Soup with Whole-Grain Croutons

This simple low-cal soup is a great way to enjoy an alternative to the traditional cream-based tomato soup.  The whole-grain croutons dissolve into the chunky, rich soup, giving it texture.

3 1/2 pounds of slicing tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
ground pepper
3 slices crusty whole-grain bread, toasted and torn into chunks
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese for garnishing

*Serves 4
cook time: 35-40 minutes

To cook soup: Core tomatoes and cut in half crosswise.

Gently squeeze over a large bowl to catch juices.

Coarsely chop tomatoes and add to bowl.

Chop the garlic, and measure out basil leaves. 

The recipe doesn't call for cutting the basil leaves, but I opted to slice them up so there would be smaller pieces in the soup.  Either way, you will still have the basil taste in the soup.

Measure out the rest of the ingredients and heat the oil only in a large pot over medium heat.

Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 45 seconds.  Add the tomatoes and the broth.  Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and cook 10 to 15 minutes to blend flavors.

While the soup is simmering, toast your whole-grain bread.
*TIP: to quickly toast, put the slices of bread in the oven and set it on the BROIL setting on HI.  It will toast before you know it, and leave you plenty of time to finish the croutons before the soup is done simmering.

Tear toast up into thick, crouton like chunks and put aside.

After 10-15 minutes of the soup simmering, stir in basil and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon into bowls and top each with croutons and about 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese.  *NOTE: I did not add Parmesan into my recipe, but it would be a great addition for any of you trying this recipe.

Scott and I are huge fans of soup & salad combos and frequent Panera Bread for their "you pick two" for lunch, or even dinner at times.  The soup looked great, but I felt like I needed to pair it with something to complete the meal.  I found a simple cucumber salad recipe to serve with the soup and the "two" I picked turned out to be a great combo.

I found this salad recipe on my SparkRecipes app and tweaked it a little to make the perfect pairing.

Cool Cucumber Salad

The original recipe I found didn't include lettuce, but I enjoyed the extra greens. I wanted to keep the salad simple, since you're getting enough tomatoes in the soup. 

1/3 head lettuce
1 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp (or 1 packet) of sugar or artificial sweetener
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
pepper, to taste

*Serves 2 - use a little over half a head of lettuce and add an extra tbsp of oil & vinegar to serve 4.
 cook time: 15 minutes

To make salad: Peel and cut the cucumber and onion.

In a large bowl, combine cucumber slices and onion slices; set aside.  If serving right away, add the lettuce now.  If not, save the lettuce to add in right before serving.

In a small bowl combine remaining ingredients.  Instead of regular sugar, I added my favorite calorie-free sweetener, truvia.

Add oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to cucumber and onion; toss well.  If you want to prepare the salad before you make the soup, cover it without the lettuce and refrigerate up to 2 hours.

When ready, simply add the lettuce into the bowl and toss it with all of the refrigerated ingredients. 

Dish salad onto a combo plate and serve with your Fresh Tomato Soup with Whole Grain Croutons!

If you enjoy a great soup & salad combo, let me know how you like this one.  Feel free to share your own favorite combos and let me know how this one worked out for you!

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