Friday, February 13, 2015


I don't know about you but after shoveling heavy snow, scraping ice and dragging bags of rock salt, home is where  I want to be. We have had our share of snowy days, winter weather advisories and nor'easters. On days like that, I crave comfort food. Something to take away the chill in your bones after being out in the cold.

One snowy blizzard day, while stuck inside, I decided to make Ina Garten's Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons. A great recipe to use ingredients already in the pantry. Believe me, when I crave comfort food, I am serious and determined but not crazy enough to drive out in a blizzard! Having ingredients on hand is the key to survival. When most people run to the store before a predicted blizzard and buy milk, bread and eggs, I run for ingredients needed to try some new recipes and of course since its cold outside they are recipes for warm, hearty, comfort foods like stew, soups, and baked goods. Goodbye diet.....for now anyway.

I had idea for making tomato soup and the grilled cheese croutons because I had just made a fresh cheddar cheese bread with my bread maker. Instead of using the country white bread the recipe called for, I thought using cheddar cheese bread would make the croutons cheesier....and it did!


3 Tablespoons good olive oil
3 Cups yellow onions chopped
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
4 Cups chicken stock, preferable homemade (I used store bought)
1 can crushed tomatoes, preferable San Marzano
Large pinch of saffron threads (you can omit if you do not have)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 Cup orzo
1/2 Cup heavy cream

In a large pot of Dutch oven such as Le Creuset, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, saffron, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring the soup to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a medium pot with water, add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 7 minutes. (It will finish cooking in the soup) Drain the orzo and add it to the soup. Stir in the cream, return the soup to a simmer, and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Serve hot with Grilled Cheese Croutons scattered on top.


4  (1/2 inch thick) slices country white bread - I used cheese bread YUM!
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated   - You can use any cheese you like

Heat a panini  grill. Place the four slices of bread on cutting board and brush lightly with melted butter, being sure to butter the corners. Turn the slices over and pile the Gruyere on two of the slices. Place the remaining two slices of bread on top of the Gruyere, buttered sides up.

Grill the sandwiches on the panini grill for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Place on a cutting board, allow to rest for 1 minute and cut into 1 inch cubes.

* If you don't have a panini press, just make them the traditional way in a frying pan.

This book is about planning a menu and coordinating everything so it all gets to the table at the same time. Ina shows you how to make a game plan so everything is served hot while you keep your cool. There are notes throughout detailing where a recipe can go wrong to keep you on track, plus tips for making recipes in advance.