I love tomato soup! I have fond memories of sitting in my mother's kitchen as a little girl and having her make tomato soup and a cheese sandwich for me. The cheese sandwich always got dunked in the tomato soup. Yum! Of course, my mother would open a can of tomato soup and just add milk and Voila - soup.
The cheesey polenta was my version of the cheese sandwich for dunking :) This wonderful, tomato soup and polenta were a delicious combination!
Tomato SoupAdapted from The Soup Bible
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 lb tomatoes, peeled and quartered (I used Pomi)
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 small bay leaf
5 tablespoons whipping cream (optional - I used Fat Free Half & Half)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and carrot and cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Stir in the tomatoes, chicken stock, parsley, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and low, cover pan, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
With a blender or food process, puree the soup in batches. Return pureed soup to the saucepan.
Stir in the cream, if using, and reheat gently. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve warm garnished with baked polenta and chives or fresh thyme.
Baked PolentaAdapted from Several Recipes
Makes a large baking sheet of polenta.
1-3/4 cups stone ground corn meal
3-1/2 cups water (or chicken stock)
4 cups additional water (or chicken stock)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
9 x 13 inch glass baking dish
Large rimmed baking pan lined with a silicone liner or parchment paper.
Add 1 teaspoon Kosher salt to the 3-1/2 cups of water in a medium to large saucepan and bring to a boil. Bring the additional 4 cups of water to a boil in another pan nearby.
Slowing add the corn meal to the pan with the salted water and whisk gently. Turn the heat down to low. Simmer gently and add water from the nearby pan in ladles-full as the polenta becomes thick. Keep simmering and adding additional water, as needed, to keep the polenta from sticking to the bottom of the pan until the desired consistency is reached (for baked polenta you want it to be slightly thicker - like thick oatmeal). This will take about 30 minutes.
Add the Parmesan cheese, minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the polenta into a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish and spread evenly. Allow to cool slightly on the counter top, then place into refrigerator for at least one hour, or covered, with plastic wrap until the next day.
After the polenta has chilled sufficiently and you are ready to prepare it, preheat the oven to 450 F. Cut the chilled polenta into squares or diamond shapes with a sharp knife or rounds with a biscuit or cookie cutter. Place the cut polenta on the lined baking pan. Brush with melted butter or cooking spray and sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and crispy on the edges.
Ladle hot tomato soup into bowls and top with a slice of polenta. Garnish with fresh chives, parsley or thyme.