Servings: Serves 6
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 stalks celery , chopped
- 1 carrot , chopped
- 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 to 2 cups cream , room temperature
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
- 4 slices thin-sliced bread
- 2 tablespoons butter , melted
- 2 slices (1/4-inch) Cheddar cheese
To make soup: In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add whole tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until carrots are very tender, about 30 minutes. Add cream, as desired. With an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth (or puree in batches in a food processor fitted with knife blade). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To make croutons: On the stove, heat a grill pan (or frying pan) over medium-high heat. Brush one side of each bread slice with butter. Place two slices in the pan, buttered side down. Top with one slice of cheese each, then top with remaining slices of bread, buttered side up. Grill 2 to 3 minutes, until toasted; turn and grill other side. Cut into 1-inch squares. Serve soup hot, topped with a few croutons per serving.