Wednesday, June 16, 2010

30 Days Gluten Free Quick & Easy Meals: Day 10 - Ellen's Tomato Soup

Welcome to 30 Days Gluten Free Quick & Easy Meals!

Today's post is written by Ellen Allard author of the blog, I Am Gluten Free.

Day 9 - Ellen Allard's Classic Tomato Soup with Herbed Croutons & Deluxe Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

"This is definitely classic tomato soup." pronounced my husband. Then he asked, "You found gluten free canned tomato soup?". "Nope", I said. "It's homemade."

I would usually reserve making Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese for a cold winter night, but I'm flying to Chicago tomorrow and had very little time for dinner prep. Before taking off for the windy city, I wanted to make something extra special for my honeys’ dinner, leaving him with the taste of something sweet on his lips. Something he'll ask for when I return home, for sure. You see, he LOVES Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese. It was a regular dinner feature for him growing up, so there are lots of gustatory memories associated with this particular pair, this super simple soup and sandwich dinner.

I didn't time myself, but if I had to guess, I would say that this dinner took me about 20 minutes, though I might throw in an extra five minutes for the croutons, which though not crucial to the soup, add that extra touch of specialness to an already delicious soup.

If I’d made it in the crockpot, it still would’ve come in at or under 20 minutes, at least for the preparation. How sweet! Throw it in the crockpot in the morning, put it on a timer so that it starts 4 hours before you’re ready to serve it, leave a few extra minutes to assemble and grill the sandwich, and voila, pretty quick dinner if you ask me.

But tonight, I made the soup in the pressure cooker, one of my absolute favorite kitchen tools (appliances?). Here’s the schedule for how long it took me to make it:

  1. 2 minutes to cut the onion and celery
  2. 3 minutes to saute onion and celery in the pressure cooker
  3. While it was sauteing, I opened the can of tomatoes, threw them in the blender and blended for about 5 seconds, minced the garlic clove, opened the container of vegetable stock, and measured the soy creamer.
  4. 30 seconds to add the tomatoes, garlic, stock, and creamer to the pressure cooker
  5. 15 seconds to add salt and pepper
  6. 8 minutes for the whole shebang to come to high pressure in the cooker
  7. 5 minutes to cook at high pressure
  8. 1 minutes to run under cold water to release the pressure
Total: just under 20 minutes

You’re probably wondering where the sandwich fits into this schedule? Honestly, while the whole shebang was coming to high pressure, I sliced the bread and buttered it. I melted some Earth Balance in a cast iron pan, slapped one piece of buttered bread (butter side down) in the pan, sprinkled on some already shredded cheese, added the other piece of bread (buttered side up). It took about 6 minutes to grill it to crisp perfection.

Ok, so throw in an extra five minutes for the croutons, but like I said, they’re not crucial to the soup. But definitely worth the extra time and effort. They add a crunchiness to the soup that elevates it to a whole new level.

Ellen's Tomato Soup with Herbed Croutons
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup soy creamer (or half and half for a dairy choice)

Heat the olive oil in the pressure cooker. Add the onion and celery and saute for 3 minutes. Add the blended tomatoes, garlic, s&p and stock. Bring to high pressure, reduce heat to simmer, cook for 5 minutes. Run cold water over pressure cooker to allow the pressure to come down. Remove the lid.

Bring the pan back to the stove, add the creamer and gently heat for 1 - 2 minutes. Serve with (or without) croutons.

Carrie's Notes: If you don't have a pressure cooker, simply add all the ingredients to your blender. Blend until smooth and then cook on the stove for about 10-20 minutes. It may not have quite as deep a flavor as the pressure cooker version, but it's fast, easy, quick, and still delicious!

Herbed Croutons
1 slice gluten free bread, cut into small cubes
1 - 2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 /4 tsp each onion and garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil and oregano
1/4 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Toast the bread cubes for 5 minutes, being careful not to burn them. Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl. Add the toasted bread cubes to coat. Put back on the baking tray and bake until golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Deluxe Grilled Cheese Sandwich
2 slices gluten free bread
cheese of choice (dairy based or dairy free - Daiya is a great choice for dairy free)
Earth balance buttery spread

Melt about 2 tsp of Earth Balance in a pan. Spread some Earth Balance on one side of each piece of bread, enough to coat the surface. When the Earth Balance has melted in the pan, put one piece of bread in the pan, buttered side down. Add the cheese (either shredded or sliced) on top of the slice of bread. Add the second piece of bread, buttered side up. Grill until desired crispness, then flip and grill other side. Occasionally, use a spatula to press down the sandwich - that will help it crisp up.

Apparently, the only way to eat this meal is to dip the sandwich into the tomato soup, just to the point of saturating the sandwich but not so much that it falls apart on the way to your mouth. My husband had lots of practice in his younger days, and was very happy to relive his past once again!


About Ellen:
Ellen is a mostly self-taught cook and baker. She loves creating new gluten free recipes, both savory and sweet. Writing for her own blog,, has given her lots of excuses to be in the kitchen. When she's not making music with her husband or visiting her new baby grandson, it's her favorite place to be. Most recently, in part influenced by Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, she has been thinking about how to eat locally and simply. Her participation in Carrie's carnival is a reflection of her desire to streamline and find easy weeknight meals that utilize mostly fresh ingredients for easy-to-make recipes.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Day 11 of 30 Days Gluten Free Quick & Easy Meals. Deanna from "TheMommyBowl" will be sharing one a delicious chicken curry recipe!

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