Tomato bisque and cheese toasts

It's still winter and hot soup tastes good. My family's early life version of this week's recipe came, of course, from the American icon of canned soups and from a 2-lb brick of "cheese" in neat square slices. We had pimentos in the "cheese" if we had company. This updated recipe comes from an excellent home cook living in Michigan. Learning to eat fresh, seasonally and locally more often has been a major benefit of having the farmers' market at the hospital. However, I sometimes really miss vegetables that aren't in season. It is going to be quite a while before luscious tomatoes grace the market. The tomato bisque featured this week uses canned tomatoes with excellent flavor. Recent taste tests reported in the media give very high ratings to Muir Glen® Organic Tomatoes that come whole, diced or crushed. Evidently, their packaging is better as the cans are lined preventing any metallic taste. Some of the other ingredients are available at the market. Dried thyme also works well, but fresh is better. This is so good that I recommend you double the recipe for serving at a second meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium cipollini onion, diced, from Happy Boys Farm (a sweet Italian. Maui or regular yellow onion would work also)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 large sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 large (28-oz) can crushed Muir Glen tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk (even skim works well)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

Warm the olive oil in a soup pot and cook the onions until they begin to soften, about 7 minutes. Add the thyme sprigs and the garlic. Stir until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, broth, honey, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about thirty minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs. Purée some of the soup in a blender, food processor or with a handheld blender. Stir in the milk and adjust the seasonings. For toasts, pick up one of the wonderful varieties of organic whole grain breads from Daniel at the Vital Vittles stand. You will see why their bread sales are increasing by double digits each month at their various outlets. Brown the slices on both sides under the broiler. Brush one side with a little Dijon mustard. Top with a layer of a low-fat (real) cheese of your choice and broil until melted. Dip these into this incredibly rich and flavorful soup.

Contributor

Preston Maring, MD

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