This last push before Christmas always gives me a surge of energy. I know that some find it stressful, but I like the crowded stores and the long to-lists and the series of errands. Specifically, I like to be out in the thick of it. There’s a sense that we’re all in it together, getting it done amid the din of Christmas carols, and I like that.
On days like this, when running around is the game plan, I think a good, nourishing lunch is a total must. Or you’ll find yourself hip-checking someone as you jockey for position in the checkout line, or—worse—collapsing into tears. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way.
This soup fits the bill—warming and toasty with smoke and spice. And it gets some heft from skillet-fried croutons, souped up (HA!) with parmesan and garlic, because you’ll need something substantial to carry you through.
Happy holiday-ing, all! And, thanks, too, for all of the kind notes in response to the news I posted last week. Your excitement really adds to ours!
Smoky, Spicy Tomato Soup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine
1 28-ounce can of tomatoes (whole or diced)
1 quart chicken stock
kosher salt, to taste
croutons (recipe below)
In a soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic clove and stir for a few seconds, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the paprika, chili powder and tomato paste, stirring to combine. Add the wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, stock and salt to taste. Bring to a bubble, and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer for 20 minutes or so. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup to your desired consistency (I like a puree that’s smooth but still rustic).
Top with a few croutons, and serve more croutons on the side for dipping.
Skillet-Fried Parmesan Croutons
Makes 2 1/2 cups croutons
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, finely minced
big pinch of kosher salt
big pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup freshly-grated parmesan
2 1/2 cups cubed day-old baguette (about half a leftover baguette)
In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, salt, pepper flakes, and parmesan. Add the cubed baguette and toss to combine.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the oiled-and-cubed bread and cook, stirring occasionally, until the croutons are fragrant and golden brown. Dial back the heat if you think the garlic might be starting to burn.
Serve with the soup, above, or store in an airtight container at room temperature. They should last a couple of days.