I recently received two loaves of bread – a loaf of 12 Grain and a loaf of 100% Whole Wheat – from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program and Nature’s Pride. (A big thank you to Foodbuzz and Nature’s Pride!) I was very excited to see that both breads are 100% natural. Both breads are fabulously delicious…slightly sweet and nutty. Their texture is light and soft (a true testament to their freshness!), but I actually prefer a denser, chewier bread. I often find that pre-sliced breads aren’t as chewy for my liking, so I actually have a very simple remedy…toasting them! (Try it, I promise it works!) I prefer the texture of the 12 Grain, since you can actually see some of the grains and the sunflower seeds, but the Whole Wheat has a slightly better health profile (a little more whole grains, fiber, and protein). All in all, the Whole Wheat is similar to the pre-sliced Whole Wheat bread I usually purchase…whether I go for the Nature’s Pride brand over my usual brand would proably be left up to the price, since the bread is very similar.
As soon as I got the bread I wanted to make something with it. Of course sandwiches came to mind…I was going to make one of my signature sandwiches (turkey-bacon with lettuce, tomato, onion, and avocado), since this sandwich tastes best when eaten on bread that’s slightly sweet. But then I got another idea. I recently bought Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics and of course several of her tantalizing recipes made it onto my ever-increasing “to make” list. So I thought, why not use the bread to indulge in one of Ina’s recipes? Of course, I altered Ina’s recipe slightly, but still, I credit her with the fantastic idea!
Fresh Tomato Soup with Parmesan Croutons (Inspired by Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics)
(Yield: 4 servings)
2 c chopped fresh tomatoes (or you could use canned)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 c peeled and chopped carrots
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 c chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 ½ TB tomato paste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fresh thyme
½ c low-fat milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)
1 slice hearty bread (such as Nature’s Pride 100% Whole Wheat)
2 TB fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp olive oil
For the soup: In a small-medium pot, combine all ingredients for the soup, except the milk, salt, and pepper. Bring the soup up to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer and let it cook (uncovered) for about 30 minutes until the veggies are tender. Let the soup cool slightly, then puree it in a blender or food processor. Transfer it back to the pot it was cooked in and bring it back up to a simmer. Turn the heat off, then stir in the milk. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste.
For the croutons: Preheat the broiler. Broil the bread on both sides until golden brown. On one side sprinkle the cheese, oil, and a dash of pepper. Broil again until the cheese is melted (stay with it because this happens fast!).
Serve the soup with the croutons and parsley on top.