Winter Warmer . . . Herbed Tomato and White Cheddar Soup, with Cheesy Croutes

Friday 22 November 2013

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I was recently sent a lovely hamper filled with goodies and asked to come up with a "Winter Warmer" recipe using some of them.  There were so many things it would have been possible to come up with one recipe which would use them all, but I certainly can come up with more than a few different recipes using a variety of the ingredients.

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The term "Winter Warmers" symbolized comfort to me, something we all long for and cling to when the cold weather hits and this challenge could not have come at a better time as this weeks thermometer has dipped down into single and minus digits!  Brrr. . .

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There is nothing nicer when the air gets cold than staying snug indoor by the fire.  The cold temperatures inspire us to eat heartier and soups, stews and casseroles are the order of the day.  When I saw the ingredients in the hamper I was immediately inspired to want to create a hand and heart warming soup.

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There is nothing nicer to warm the soul on a chilly day than a nice hot bowl of soup. The Toddster he likes thick and creamy soups . . . I like chunky soups.  Today his desires won out and I created him a delicious creamy  Herby Tomato and White Cheddar Soup which I topped with some cheesy croutes to serve.  The soup itself is a testimony to good store cupboard ingredients . . using things like tinned tomatoes (there are some really nice ones out there today) and stock pots.  I used both the chicken stock pots and the herby stock pots to give the soup a lovely rich and herbed base.

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I also used thinly sliced leeks.  Leeks give soup such a wonderful flavour don't you think?  The Toddster loves leeks in anything, except perhaps dessert!  I added some sour cream and cheddar cheese to give it added depth and a creamy richness.

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I topped it with some crunchy and buttery cheesy croutes.  Not quite rarebits, but little buttery toasted topped with a mayonnaise, onion and cheese mixture which is then grilled until golden brown and bubbling.   They added a lovely touch to the top of the soup and a brilliant presentation. (These croutes on their own and cut into smaller shapes before grilling make fabulous appetizer bites as well!)

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Simple and easy enough to enjoy as a lovely light supper, but at the same time rich and flavourful enough to be used as a first course party dish.  Enjoy!  

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*Herby Tomato and White Cheddar Soup*
  with Cheesy Croutes
Serves 6
A fabulously flavourful soup made with simple ingredients and topped with tasty crunchy little cheesy toasts.  Easy enough for a simple family light supper or lunch, but delicious enough for company.

2 TBS olive oil
4 to 5 medium leeks, trimmed and washed, and cut into half moons
(white and light green parts only)
4 (500g) tins of chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
(14 ounce tins)
900ml of water
2 chicken stock pots
2 herb stock pots
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt to taste
120ml of dairy sour cream (1/2 cup)
120g of grated strong white cheddar cheese (1 cup)

For the cheesy croutes:
6 slices of good white bread, 1/2 inch thick, lightly buttered
3 TBS finely grated Parmesan cheese
3 TBS grated strong cheddar cheese
3 TBS good quality mayonnaise (such as Hellmans)
2 TBS finely chopped red onion
pinch of cayenne pepper 

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First make the soup.  Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add the leeks and cook, stirring, until they have softened, without colouring.   Tip in the water, tomatoes, stock pots and cayenne pepper.   Bring to the boil, then reduce to a slow simmer.  Cook slowly, uncovered, until all of the vegetables are very soft.  This will take about 20 minutes.  At the end of that time, using an immersion blender (Or using a food processor or regular blender with care and in batches) puree the soup until smooth.  Place back on the heat and bring back up just to the boil.  Whisk in the sour cream and cheddar cheese.   Taste and adjust seasoning with some salt if needed.   Keep warm over very low heat, without letting the soup boil, while you make the croutes.

While the soup is cooking, you can prepare the croutes ready for cooking.  Using a star cookie cutter, cut two stars out of each slice of buttered bread.  Place, buttered side up, beneath a heated grill and toast first on the buttered side, and then on the unbuttered side.   Cream together the cheeses and mayonnaise until smooth.  Stir in the onion, mixing it in well.  Divide and spread an even amount over each toasted croute on the unbuttered sides.   When the soup is done, pop the croutes back under the grill and grill until golden and bubbling.

To serve, ladle the hot soup into individual heated soup bowls.  Top each serving with two croutes and serve immediately.

Note, if you are unable to get chicken stock pots, you can just replace the water in the soup with a good chicken stock, and add up to 3 TBS of fresh chopped herbs.  I would use parsley, marjoram, and thyme.  I would also add a broken bay leaf.  Remove the bay leaf before pureeing.


  1. Yum Marie. It is too hot and I am craving cold soups and have fallen in love with the gazpacho they make at my son's work. Naughty boy won't make it for his mumma. Leeks are so expensive here. I think your recipe calls for $15 worth. If i make this I will be substituting. Are the "pots: those jelly type stock concentrates?

  2. Yes they are Suze! Tell Will, he must make you some Gazpacho! It is so refreshing! xx

  3. You have hit on my favorite soup of all times today.

    I love tomato soup, tomato any thing!!!

    Happy weekend.

  4. this is amazing, oh my!

  5. what is a stock pot and can I subsitute?

  6. Hi amelia, as I said at the bottom of the post you can use chicken stock instead of water and add herbs (parsley, marjoram, thyme and a bay leaf.) A stock pot is a small pot of reduced and jellied stock. YOu find them in the spice aisle of the grocery store.

  7. Now that's exactly the sort of food that makes me sigh, absolutely gorgeous! X

  8. Love the look of those cheesey croutons on top! Yum!

  9. Sunday night comfort food! We loved Sunday nights when I was growing up, as we almost always had tomato soup in mugs along with a toasted jaffle and we were allowed to eat it while watching Disneyland. It was the only time mum let us have the tv on while we were eating.

    This was like a trip down that memory lane, only this soup was far superior to the Heinz Tomato Soup we had back then. I loved the addition of cheese as it made the soup creamy and velvety and I am very partial to leeks in soup, so that was also something that added flavour. Those buttery cheesy croutes are so delicious and a perfect topping to the soup. I didn't have a small star cutter, but used the tiny round, fluted one in my cutting set and they looked as nice.

    We really liked this one and I can see it becoming a firm autumn favourite - so easy to make and so tasty and warming.


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