Fresh Tomato Soup with Lemon Parmesan Croutons

Summer garden tomatoes pair well with tangy lemon juice. This tomato soup gets a punch of flavor from a squeeze of citrus and crunchy lemon croutons. It is sure to become a summer lunchtime favorite.

Yield: 2 to 3 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds tomatoes peeled** and chopped (about 4 large)
½ cup water
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice*

Croutons
1 ½  cups cubed bread
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice*
1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes more.

Add the water, basil, salt, sugar, red pepper and black pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.
Remove from the heat and transfer the soup to a blender. Puree until smooth and return to the pot. Stir in the lemon juice. Serve topped with croutons.

For the croutons
Heat the broiler. Toss all ingredients in a small bowl. Spread the bread cubes out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil until browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Cool before serving.

*We recommend using lemons and limes from Paramount Citrus. They are consistently fresh and juicy and available at most major grocery, mass and club retailers.

**To peel the fresh tomatoes, blanch them. Core the tomatoes and place in a pot of boiling water for about 45 seconds, until the skin begins to peel back. Remove from the boiling water and immediately submerge in ice water until cool. Peel the skins off and chop the tomatoes.

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