Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup + Croutons

I tried this recipe over the weekend.   It’s from America’s Test Kitchen Season 9 DVD, which I received from my wife on Christmas.    As my go-to recipe source this month,  I’ve tried out several recipes from this DVD with one home run after another.    I’ll have to post some more soon, but I would recommend picking it up.    This is a really great and easy recipe to try out.    What’s interesting about the soup is there’s no cream so the tomato flavor is more prominent.    Also I love the toppings of croutons, chives, and extra virgin olive oil.  

If half of the soup fills your blender by more than two-thirds, process the soup in three batches. I filled the blender half full but was real careful to cover with a towel so you don’t scald yourself.    The liquid is really hot!     You can also use an immersion blender to process the soup directly in the pot. For an even smoother soup, pass the pureed mixture through a fine-mesh strainer before stirring in the chicken broth in step 2.  

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

Serves 6 to 8 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil , plus more for drizzling 

Ingredients
1 medium onion , chopped medium (about 1 cup) 
3 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon) 
 Pinch hot red pepper flakes (optional) 
1 bay leaf  
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice 
1 tablespoon brown sugar  
3 large slices good-quality sandwich bread , crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces 
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth  
2 tablespoons brandy (optional) 
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives  

Directions

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes (if using), and bay leaf. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Using potato masher, mash until no pieces bigger than 2 inches remain. Stir in sugar and bread; bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.

2. Transfer half of soup to blender. Add 1 tablespoon oil and process until soup is smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and repeat with remaining soup and oil. Rinse out Dutch oven and return soup to pot. Stir in chicken broth and brandy (if using). Return soup to boil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve soup in individual bowls. Sprinkle each portion with pepper and chives and drizzle with olive oil.

Croutons
Makes about 1 1/2 cups 3 large slices high-quality white sandwich bread , crusts removed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups) 
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil  

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Place bread cubes in medium bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss well with rubber spatula to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Spread croutons in single layer on rimmed baking sheet or in shallow baking dish. Bake croutons, turning them over halfway through cooking time, until golden brown and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. After cooling, croutons can be stored in airtight container or plastic bag for up to 3 days.

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