Rustic Tomato Soup with Parmesan Croutons

IMG_2135by Miriam Rubin

I first tasted this earthy soup at a little neighborhood restaurant in New York City and I recreated if for my own kitchen. The recipe is so easy, the soup has a pure tomato flavor, and the freshly made croutons provide body and crunch. As a plus, diced canned tomatoes and especially the tomato paste are excellent sources of lycopene, made more accessible because of the heart-healthy olive oil in this soup.


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, halved and sliced

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Kosher salt

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon fennel seeds

Pinch crushed red pepper

2 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 can (28 ounces) petite diced tomatoes in juice

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Parmesan Croutons:

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups ½-inch cubes sturdy, crusty whole-grain bread

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Pinch coarse sea salt or kosher salt, to taste

  1. For the soup: Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until tender and just golden at the edges, about 6 minutes. Stir in the oregano, fennel and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.
  2. 2. Add the diced tomatoes and their juices, the broth and tomato paste and whisk well to blend in the tomato paste. Bring to a boil, mashing the tomatoes with a potato masher. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, mashing tomatoes twice, for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  3. For the croutons: Heat the oil in a heavy, medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the bread cubes and cook, tossing with two spoons, until they start to crisp, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the garlic; mix well and cook, tossing, until fragrant and cubes begin to brown (but not overbrown), another 2 minutes. Tip into a bowl. Mix with the Parmesan and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  4. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with croutons. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings

Miriam RubinA graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Miriam was the first woman to work in the kitchens of NYC’s famed Four Seasons Restaurant. A former food editor of Weight Watchers Magazine, her first cookbook, Grains, was published in 1995. She writes a food and garden column “Miriam’s Garden” for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and is a frequent contributor to their food pages.Her latest book, Tomatoes: A Savor the South Cookbook was published by the University of North Carolina Press. Miriam gardens and writes in rural Western Pennsylvania.
Find her at Twitter @mmmrubin and her website and blog is
Check out my new book, Tomatoes