Tomato Basil Soup with Cornbread Croutons

This week has been dedicated to spending more time in the kitchen, and trying to find my groove again. August and September were by far my busiest months. And they were great! I recently styled a cookbook, more to come on that later! But as great as these months were, I found myself completely exhausted, missing my family, and somehow (even though I work with food!), really disconnected with my kitchen. So this week, I changed that. I got to take my kids to school everyday. I cooked 3 meals a day, even caught up on some laundry and tv shows. 

One of my favorite things that happened in the kitchen this week was these cornbread croutons. I was actually making the cornbread for another project that I am working on, and with a few leftovers quickly turned those into some croutons. And with croutons, I needed soup! Below is one of my favorite tomato soup recipes, but let's be real, we don't always have time to make soup from scratch. So make the croutons instead, and go by yourself some creamy tomato soup, I like this brand

Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend, xx. 

Tomato Basil Soup

3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped yellow onions
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1/2-3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (OPTIONAL)
1 cup basil, plus 1/2 cup more thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss together tomatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes. 

In a large stockpot, heat 2 tablespoon olive oil with onions, garlic, butter, and red pepper flakes until the onions begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add in the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, stock and cream (if using). Now mix in the roasted tomatoes with their juices. Bring to a boil and simmer for 40 minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to cool for 10 minutes, and then carefully, puree using high-powered blender, or a immersion blender. 

Cornbread Croutons

I have tried a few different cornbread variations through the years, but honestly, I just keep going back to this one. 

1 batch of cornbread
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

After you have made your favorite cornbread, allow it to fully cool. At that time, run a sharp knife starting at the edge through the middle. Creating 2 thin layers of cornbread. From their, continue slicing, maybe 1" cubes. 

In a cast iron skillet, or skillet of your choice, heat up 1 tablespoon of vegetable over medium-high heat. Add the cornbread cubes in 1 layer. Quickly, brown the cubes and all sides, flipping them as you go. Remove the croutons and set on a paper towel, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet and continue with the remaining cubes. 

Alternatively, you can gently toss the cubes in a bit of oil, and roast in the oven at 375 for 10 minutes. 

To serve, fill bowls with soup, top with thinly sliced basil and cornbread croutons.