This harissa tomato soup. So many things. So, SOOO many things. Starting with grilled cheese croutons.
Did I have you at pepper jack grilled cheese croutons? Good. Because crispy cubes of grilled cheese in your soup is nothing short of a life-changing soup habit. Are grilled cheese croutons simply grilled cheese cut into cubes? Why yes, yes they are. Is it really any different than just dipping your grilled cheese in your tomato soup? Why no, no it's not. But I went ahead and made it sound special anyway, kind of like French toast sticks.
Anyway, that's just beginning of the harissa tomato soup story. Well actually, it's the end because you make the grilled cheese croutons last. So here's the beginning.
Homemade tomato soup will make you never look at a can of Campbell's tomato soup in the same way again. It's so fresh and ridiculously simple. For a basic tomato soup, you could honestly get by with pantry and fridge staples alone (think canned tomatoes, onion, olive oil, carrots, and broth). I just threw in a little harissa paste to make your taste buds tingle, and some red lentils to add some protein and thickness.
And when this cooler fall weather has you craving warm soups and bread, this harissa tomato soup will surely hit the spot.
Now, I know I said you could get away with pantry staples, but if you do find yourself with a bunch of fresh tomatoes on hand, you should definitely use them. That was originally my plan until I decided to eat ten fresh tomatoes plain and justified it by telling myself we all need to have canned tomato recipes ready for winter, when we won't have fresh garden tomatoes (let's not talk about this right now).
Okay though. Let's talk quickly about how to make this stuff and get you on your way to an easy, healthy comfort food fix.
You'll start off with some onions, carrots, and garlic sautéed in a generous swish of olive oil and a healthy dose of harissa paste (or just a little dab if you want to keep things mild). And let me just say, because this is a blended soup, you can roughly chop everything. In fact, throw your garlic cloves in there whole. Don't even bother with peeling and mincing those guys (I love you, garlic, but sometimes you're just really papery). This is permission for you to BE. LAZY.
So you're sautéing all that until it gets soft, say seven minutes or so. Then pour in two cups veggie broth, a 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes, and one cup of red lentils. And some salt and pepper for good measure. Bring that back to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. The lentils will cook within that time, and all the flavors will meld together.
After that, turn off the stove heat, remove the soup pot, and let it sit for about ten minutes to cool off before blending (unless you have an immersion blender, then just go for it). Carefully pour the soup into a high speed blender and blend until completely smooth -- a full minute should do the trick. Now, pour the blended soup back into the pot over some low heat to keep it warm, and cover to keep it from exploding tomato soup everywhere when it bubbles (does this happen to anyone else??).
To be honest, these grilled cheese croutons are truly nothing special and incredibly basic (bread + butter + cheese), yet so delicious as a soup topping. You can use your favorite whole grain or sourdough bread. Grab a couple slices and spread some olive oil or butter on to one side of each piece. You want the buttered sides to be the ones that are touching the hot pan, so the "outside" of the sandwich.
Assemble the grilled cheese and place the entire sandwich in a hot pan. Cook both sides until they're toasty and browned, and the cheese is melted. Cut that up into cubes of whatever size you like. Definitely eat some of them as you dish up a couple bowls of soup 🙂
Last step: get that grilled cheese all up in your harissa tomato soup.
p.s. Some other cozy fall recipes that'll warm you up this weekend:Print
Harissa Tomato Soup with Pepper Jack Grilled Cheese Croutons
This harissa tomato soup is slightly spicy and perfectly warming for the cooler fall weather! Red lentils make it a thick, hearty, high-protein soup. Pepper jack grilled cheese croutons make it good for your soul.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 65
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: 4-6 1x
- Category: Soup
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
For the Harissa Tomato Soup:
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoon harissa paste
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups veggie broth
- ¾-1 cup dry red lentils
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the Grilled Cheese Croutons:
- 1-2 tablespoon olive oil or butter
- 2 slices of your favorite whole grain or sourdough bread
- 2-4 oz. pepper jack cheese, sliced
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, celery, carrots, and harissa paste. Sauté until softened, stirring occasionally (about seven minutes).
- Add tomatoes, broth, red lentils, salt (adjust to taste -- if your broth is salty, you might not need as much additional salt), and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove soup from heat and allow to cool, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Pour soup into a high-speed blender and blend for about a minute, or until everything is super smooth. Pour soup back into soup pot and place over low heat, covered, to keep warm while you make the grilled cheese croutons.
- Heat a bit of olive oil or butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Butter one side each of two pieces of bread. Assemble the grilled cheese with the buttered sides facing out so that they are the sides touching the hot pan. Cook the grilled cheese in the pan until outsides are nicely browned and cheese is melted.
- Remove grilled cheese from heat and cut into cubes -- these are your grilled cheese croutons.
- Dish up tomato soup and sprinkle with croutons. If you're feeling crazy, maybe sprinkle on a few shred of pepper jack or some cilantro, or drizzle on a little more olive oil. YUM.
Keywords: harissa tomato soup, pepper jack grilled cheese