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Video: Pump up the flavor of classic tomato soup

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    >>> this morning on "today's kitchen," what's on the menu, a classic comfort food with a twist for a cold fall day. ina garten is out with her new cook book , barefoot contessa , foolproof." .

    >> nice to be here.

    >> we're making tomato soup .

    >> everybody feels like comfort food with the storm and holidays coming and i thought what better than tomato soup .

    >> yours has a little bit of a twist. how do we get started here?

    >> really easy, sauteed some onions. saute them slowly for 15 minutes and add garlic right at the end.

    >> how many of garl snick.

    >> a teaspoon of garlic and then it doesn't burn if you add it right at the end for about a minute and i'll add chicken stock . this is really fast. four cups of chicken stock and tomatoes.

    >> crushed tomatoes. okay to use tomatoes from a can. not against the law.

    >> and i love san marzano tomatoes. and saffron, gives it a little bit of heat, salt and pepper , and a tablespoon of salt because it's a big pot of soup and a teaspoon of pepper, put that right in, and it's going to cook for about 15 minutes .

    >> now you have orzo in this. how do we get that ready to go?

    >> put in half a cup of orzo, half cooked it, and i'm going to put it in and let it finish cooking in the soup, and what happens is the starve in the orzo thickens the soup naturally.

    >> you have cooked the orzo.

    >> about seven minutes.

    >> and it will finish in there.

    >> and, of course, a little cream never hurt.

    >> go to town.

    >> a little cream in, and add it right in and that cooks for 15 minutes . it's fantastic, and i have some finished right here. you want to try it?

    >> of course i do. it's not comfort food yet until you have a grilled cheese sandwich with it so we'll make grilled cheese youthon.

    >> right up here.

    >> i think you may have to wait for the whole thing.

    >> here's some soup.

    >> great.

    >> and i make grilled cheese youthons by taking bread and gruyere by putting them right here in in a panini machine.

    >> butter the bread.

    >> melt the butter, put it on the bread and make a gruyere sandwich. take it out of the panini press, so much easier than a pan and cut it up in a pan.

    >> if you don't have a panini press you can fry it the old way.

    >> i love that. that's a cute take on youthons.

    >> if i take a bite, will you tell us about our thing back there.

    >> i can.

    >> so good.

    >> that's great.

    >> what's our next one.

    >> the next comfort food , of course, is meatloaf, right, so this is 1770 house meatloaf from a restaurant, a wonderful restaurant near me, so delicious, and they make a sauce that's garlic and chicken stock , an they just cook it until it's really sweet and just pour it right over the whole thing.

    >> i'm not used to -- i'm used to meatloaf with ketchup on top.

    >> this is fancier meatloaf and made actually with panko crumbs which you puree, and it really holds it together.

    >> the gang's all here.

    >> you have to come.

    >> that's so good.

    >> so happy to see you.

    >> excuse us.

    >> oh, my gosh. that looks good.

    >> one more.

    >> we have toffee date cake, i don't think anybody wants that.

    >> we do.

    >> the toffee date cake is a really moist holiday cake that you make with a caramel glaze that has a little bit of bourbon in it. i don't think anybody is going to want to taste that, right?

    >> i didn't think i could fall in love with meatloaf, it's happened.

    >> this is so good.

    >> delicious.

    >> i have some on my finger.

    >> thank you so much. a reminder to everybody, the cook book is called "foolproof."

TODAY recipes
updated 11/2/2012 6:38:09 PM ET 2012-11-02T22:38:09

Recipe: Easy tomato soup and grilled cheese croutons

  • For the soup:
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Grilled Cheese Croutons (recipe follows)
  • For the croutons:
  • 4 (1/2 -inch-thick) slices country white bread
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

For soup:

In a large pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, saffron, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a medium pot with water, add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 7 minutes. (It will finish cooking in the soup.) Drain the orzo and add it to the soup. Stir in the cream, return the soup to a simmer, and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Serve hot with Grilled Cheese Croutons scattered on top.

For grilled cheese croutons:

Heat a panini grill. Place the four slices of bread on a cutting board and brush lightly with the melted butter, being sure to butter the corners. Turn the slices over and pile Gruyere on two of the slices. Place the remaining two slices of bread on top of the Gruyere, buttered sides up.

Grill the sandwiches on the panini grill for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Place on a cutting board, allow to rest for 1 minute and cut into 1-inch cubes.


You can make the soup ahead and reheat it before serving.

Serving Size

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Recipe: House meatloaf

  • For meatloaf:
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped Spanish onion (1 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups small-diced celery (2 stalks)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread flakes)
  • Garlic Sauce (recipe follows)
  • For garlic sauce:
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For meatloaf:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent but not browned. Set aside to cool slightly.

Place the beef, veal, pork, parsley, thyme, chives, eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Put the panko in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the panko is finely ground.

Add the onion mixture and the panko to the meat mixture. With clean hands, gently toss the mixture together, making sure it's combined but not compacted.

Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Pat the meat into a flat rectangle and then press the sides in until it forms a cylinder down the middle of the pan (this will ensure no air pockets). Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a thermometer inserted in the middle reads 155 to 160 degrees. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve hot with the Garlic Sauce.

For garlic sauce:

Combine the oil and garlic in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Be careful not to burn the garlic or it will be bitter. Remove the garlic from the oil and set aside. (I save the oil for vinaigrettes.)

Combine the chicken stock, butter and cooked garlic in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook at a full boil for 35 to 40 minutes, until slightly thickened. Mash the garlic with a fork, whisk in 1/4 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, and taste for seasonings. Spoon the warm sauce over the meatloaf.

Choose firm heads of garlic that have no green sprouts.

Serving Size

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Recipe: Sticky toffee date cake with bourbon glaze

  • For cake:
  • 3/4 pound dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¹⁄³ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • For the sauce:
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons good bourbon, such as Maker
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Sweetened whipped cream, for serving (see note)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 x 2-inch round cake pan.

Place the dates in a deep saucepan with 1 ¾ cups of water. Bring to boil, stirring a little to break up the dates. Allow to simmer for 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the baking soda (it will bubble up!). Set aside.

Meanwhile, in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla, scraping down the bowl. (The mixture may look curdled.)

Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer still on low, slowly add it to the batter. With the mixer on low, add the hot date mixture in two batches to the batter, scraping down the bowl. The batter will be runny but don't worry! Stir in the baking powder, which will also bubble up. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, combine the butter, brown sugar, heavy cream and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the bourbon and vanilla and pour into a 2-cup heat-proof glass measuring cup. Set aside.

As soon as the cake is done, poke holes all over it with a toothpick. Pour three-quarters of the sauce evenly over the cake while still warm and allow it to soak in for 30 minutes. Turn the cake out bottom side up onto a flat serving plate and pour the remaining sauce on top. Cool completely.

Serving Size

Makes a 9-inch cake

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