Speaking of the soup, my partner Richard grew some amazing tomatoes in his garden this past summer. And as he admired them, he had a stroke of genius. <Said in deep, sexy Southern accent> “You know, I bet you can do a French Onion take on these tomatoes.” That man sure is smart.
Folks, I bring you the best of a French onion soup and a creamy tomato soup turned into a soup inspired by the French classic. And so I’m calling it French Tomato Soup. And of course it’s loaded with cheese to please, mon cherie.
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter
- 4 sweet (Vidalia) onions, sliced into strips
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1/4 cup sherry wine
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 cups onion, garlic or vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
- 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half
- 5.2-ounce package Boursin (any flavor) or herb cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella or swiss cheese
- 2 cups shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese
- 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- Croutons of your choice
- Sliced cheddar cheese
- Sliced muenster cheese
- Campari/cocktail tomatoes, thinly sliced
- Add the butter to the Instant Pot, hit Sauté and Adjust so it’s on the More or High setting. Once melted, add the onions and sauté for 15 minutes until they become soft, pasta-like and a bit syrupy. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more.
- Add the sherry and Worcestershire sauce. Let bubble for 1 minute, constantly stirring and scraping up the bottom of the pot so nothing sticks.
- In this order, add the broth, thyme, canned tomatoes but do not stir! Just gently smooth the tomatoes out on top with a mixing spoon. Top with the basil leaves. Secure the lid, move the valve to the sealing position, and hit Cancel and then Manual or Pressure Cook on High Pressure for 6 minutes. Quick release when done.
- Optional: For a more rustic and textured experience (and keeping in line with the "French onion" homage) you can reserve about a cup of the onion with some tongs or a slotted spoon. If doing that, do it now.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the soup for about a minute or two until it's a smooth puree.
- Stir in the cream, Boursin, shredded cheeses, seasoned salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Blend once more until fully smooth.
- Place oven-safe crocks on a baking sheet and ladle the soup into each, filling it just below the lip. Top with croutons and, depending on the size of your crocks, layer 1-2 slices of Muenster cheese upon of the croutons, sealing the top of the crock. Then, add another cheese layer in the opposite direction with 1-2 slices of cheddar cheese. Top with a thinly sliced tomato in the center and perhaps a few small basil leaves, if you wish. Place the baking sheet with the crocks in the oven on the top rack on 425° or broil for 3 or so minutes until cheese melts and cascades down the sides. (NOTE: keep on eye on this as we don’t want the cheese to burn). Serve immediately, being mindful that the crock will be very hot!
Use ANY kind of cheese your heart desires!