During my first semester in college, I gained about 25 pounds. For a short person like me who never had any prior issues with food or weight, it was dramatic. It was the result of terrible cafeteria food, too many fat free animal crackers, and definitely too many midnight dorm room pizzas. That New Year’s Eve, I resolved to get the weight off… and fast. My best friend told me that she was doing this thing called the master cleanse so, naturally, that sounded like a good idea. I’m sure you’ve heard of it – it involves a concoction made of lemon juice, maple syrup, and black pepper. Only I didn’t like black pepper and maple syrup was expensive, so instead I decided that I would just drink lemon juice mixed with water for as many days as were directed in the “cleanse.” During those first few weeks back at school, while everyone would have their cafeteria trays full of pancakes and whatever other breakfast food, I’d fill my tray with four glasses of water, sit down, and start squeezing my lemons. Everyone thought I was crazy, but the idea of just eating reasonably and sensibly made didn’t make sense to my college self, who wanted to be thin NOW. Well, I was crazy and drinking only lemon juice isn’t actually sustainable (no love with those lemons), but this line of thinking stayed with me for a couple of years while I yoyo’d up and down in weight. That was until one day I learned that if I just ate pretty well and avoided crazy ups and downs, everything would be ok – and it has been.
So this year, like every year, I have no New Year’s diet resolutions other than continuing to eat delicious, wholesome food with some room for fun foods. Just like this tomato soup (wholesome) with grilled cheese croutons (fun!). It’s all vegan but I promise you won’t even know it! We’re partnering with ALDI on this post because they carry delicious organic produce and some A+ pantry staples as well.
Because it’s winter, I intended to make this soup using only canned tomatoes, but when we got to ALDI, their organic fresh tomatoes just looked so darn good. So I roasted onions, tomatoes, and garlic which I later blended with canned tomatoes, chickpeas, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh thyme.
This soup is SO good. It’s tangy from the tomatoes, creamy from the chickpeas, and so so satisfying. I’d say yes to a bowl of this every day of the winter. Jack, who is not the biggest fan of tomato soup, could not get enough.
It’s delicious on its own, but the fun, yummy grilled cheese croutons really take it over the top. I used ALDI’s Knock Your Sprouts Off Sprouted 7 Grain Bread and their Earth Grown Vegan Shredded Cheese. I have to tell you that I’m so excited about this vegan cheese because: 1 – it tastes really good, 2 – it actually melts great, and 3 – it’s so affordable!
Happy New Year’s soup making!
Vegan Tomato Soup w/ Grilled Cheese Croutons
- 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 4 medium fresh tomatoes
- 1 small yellow onion, sliced into quarters
- 1 (14-ounce) can Happy Harvest Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic, and Oregano
- ⅓ cup Dakota’s Pride Garbanzo Beans, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon Specially Selected Balsamic Vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Specially Selected 100% Pure Maple Syrup
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon SimplyNature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, more for drizzling
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon Stonemill Crushed Red Pepper flakes
- Heaping ½ teaspoon Stonemill Sea Salt
- freshly ground Stonemill Black Pepper
- 8 slices SimplyNature Knock Your Sprouts Off Sprouted 7 Grain Bread
- heaping ½ cup Earth Grown Vegan Mozzarella Style Shreds
- Preheat the oven to 450° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Wrap the garlic cloves in a piece of foil and place it on the baking sheet along with the whole tomatoes and the onion wedges. Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tomatoes and onions are well browned. Peel the garlic and transfer the roasted vegetables to a blender.
- Reduce the oven heat to 400° F and line the baking sheet with a fresh sheet of parchment paper.
- Make the croutons: Sprinkle 4 slices of the sprouted bread with the vegan shredded cheese (don’t pile too high in the middle or the croutons will be too melty to slice). Top with the remaining bread slices to make sandwiches and drizzle the outsides of the bread with olive oil. Bake until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing into croutons so that the cheese doesn’t ooze out when you cut it.
- To the blender, add the canned tomatoes, garbanzo beans, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, thyme leaves, 1 tablespoon olive oil, red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon sea salt, and freshly ground pepper and blend until creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. At this stage, the soup should still be hot. If not, pour it into a pot to reheat it.
- Serve the soup with the croutons (some in the soup, some on the side) and additional fresh thyme, red pepper flakes, and chickpeas, if desired.
Make this recipe gluten free by using gluten free bread.