By itself, this is a very fast and simple soup. The garlic croutons do a lot to lift it out of the ordinary, so do make them. They are really not hard either.
I used cheese bread for my croutons which in the face of the garlic was a bit subtle, but in fact did come through and was very nice. Watch those croutons in the oven towards the end. You want them nice and crisp and a bit browned, but as with most things it can be overdone.
If you are using this for 6 servings, or if you have some serious crouton eaters, you may need to make a second batch of the croutons. Both soup and croutons can be made in advance and reheat very well. Don’t try to reheat the croutons in the microwave – oven only. A minute or two under the broiler will do it, just be sure to watch them and give them a stir to help heat them evenly.
4 to 6 servings
1 hour – 40 minutes prep time
Make the Soup:
250 grams (1/2 pound) carrots
250 grams (1/2 pound) potatoes
1 medium onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rubbed basil
1/2 teaspoon celery seed, ground
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups crushed/diced (canned) tomatoes
a dash or 2 of Worcestershire sauce
Wash, trim and cut the carrots into chunks. Put them in a heavy-bottomed soup pot with water to generously cover them and bring them to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile wash, trim, and cut the potatoes into somewhat larger chunks. Peel and coarsely chop the onion. Add them both to the carrots at the end of the 10 minutes and continue to cook everything for another 20 minutes. (Work on the croutons while they cook.)
When the vegetables are quite tender, drain off most of the water – a bit of a puddle at the bottom is fine. Purée them with seasonings and return them to the pot. Add the chicken stock and tomatoes, and season with the Worcestershire sauce.
Simmer for another 20 minutes or so to allow the flavours to blend. Stir regularly. Adjust the seasoning and serve with the croutons.
Make the Croutons:
4 slices of stale bread
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 to 3 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon rubbed basil
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Slice the bread. Soften the butter in a small bowl, either on the back of the stove or in a microwave – it should be solid but workable. Peel and mince the garlic, and mix it into the butter with the other seasonings.
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Heat a large skillet that can go into the oven on top of the stove, over medium-low heat.
Spread the butter evenly onto both sides of the bread, then stack the slices and cut them into squares. Add them to the pan, and cook, stirring regularly, until the bread pieces and garlic are very lightly browned all over. Transfer them to the oven and let them dry out and crisp up for 20 to 30 minutes.
Last year at this time I made Thai Style Peanut & Sweet Potato Soup.