Thursday, August 25, 2011

Vegan Tomato Pesto Soup with Pesto Grilled Cheese Croutons

And a hint of coconut. Because I am still currently obsessed with my two favorite products.

The other day summer decided to take a little holiday. And when summer isn't around it rains. And when it rains, all I want to do is stay home, play games in front of the fire with Noodle Nose and bake.

And I usually want to have soup for dinner. Tomato soup. And grilled cheese.

Because let's be honest; is there anyone out there that doesn't agree that tomato soup and grilled cheese is the best, most perfect alltime ever comforting warm and fuzzy food?

And even though summer was on holiday and tomato soup and grilled cheese just seemed right, I still wanted to make a soup that is as 'summer' as summer itself.

So I present to you the best summery tomato soup ever known to mankind. And I'm not exaggerating.

Fresh heirloom tomatoes, pesto made from fresh basil and just an eensy hint of coconut. 

And then I did it one better and topped this amazing soup with a little something I call Pesto Grilled Cheese Croutons. Essentially they are tiny squares of grilled cheese. Cheese being 'cheese', of course.  

After making this soup and offering it to my panel of judges, I was informed, as if my tastebuds hadn't already confirmed, that this soup is amazing.

The fresh bright flavor of heirloom tomatoes paired with the rich flavor of fresh pesto is truly fantastic. And the tiny pesto grilled cheese croutons add a bit of extra cruch and texture. Not to mention flavor.

Also, if it's a hot day, serve it chilled! I guarantee it will be just as tasty and refreshing. Also, if for some reason you don't like the 'hint of coconut' idea, simply use plain soy milk and regular Earth Balance spread.

'This is awesome. You need to can this sh*t', is a direct quote from my very own personal Joe Bastianich.

1/2 white onion, diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely diced
3 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 regular can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt (more to taste)
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper (more to taste)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh pesto
1 cup So Delicious coconut milk, unsweetened

For the Pesto Grilled Cheese Croutons:
1 loaf artisan bread... make sure it's vegan, if you care
About 1 to 2 Tablespoons Earth Balance coconut spread
About 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh pesto
Daiya cheese, mozzarella style

In a soup pot, melt coconut spread over med/high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook until just translucent, about 2-3 minutes.

Reduce heat just a bit and add tomatoes to the pot. Stir and allow to cook about 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes are very soft and their juices release.

Add tomato sauce, dried basil leaves, salt and pepper and reduce heat to low. Stir to combine then cover and let cook anywhere from 15 to 35 minutes, depending on how much time you have. Make sure you stir it every few minutes.

While your soup is 'marinating', prepare your pesto if you haven't already and make your croutons.

To make the croutons: Preheat oven to 325.

Slice bread fairly thin and spread pesto evenly on both sides. Sprinkle a little Daiya cheese on one side then close the sandwich. Note: don't go overboard on the cheese.

Spread coconut spread on both outsides of the sandwich. Grill on a flat pan or use a panini press until both sides are golden brown. Remove and cut into about 3/4 inch cubes.

Spread cubes evenly onto a baking sheet and bake about 3 minutes on each side, until they are crispy, like a crouton. Remove and let cool. Note: they won't be fully crispy because of the cheese.

Back to the soup: Remove lid and stir. Using an immersion blender, blend soup until it is smooth and there are no large chunks.

Add balsamic vinegar, fresh pesto and So Delicious coconut milk to your soup and stir. At this point you are ready to serve. You can also leave it on low heat until you are ready to serve.

Ladle into a bowl and top with several croutons.

Warm and comforting. All the flavors of tomato soup like your mom used to make... but with a twist.



  1. Two favorites rolled into one? I think I'm in love!

  2. This looks spectacular, Ellen! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe! We can't wait to try it!

  3. Teri... oh yes! Did you try it with the pesto you made? So good!

    Gail... thank you so much! I am always happy to share! :)



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