The One Ingredient That Makes Ina Garten's Tomato Soup a Must-Make

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It's fall y'all and that means it's pumpkin spice, apple picking and, of course, soup season. But before you pop open that can of Campbell's, you just may want to check out how simple it is to make a comforting cozy pot of soup that will feed you all week long.

It's for that very reason that I knew I had to check out Ina Garten's Easy Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Croutons recipe from her book Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust. The recipe might be from 2012, but like most of Ina's recipes I suspected that it would stand the test of time.

It has all the makings of a certified classic creation: creamy, warm, comforting, decadent and absolutely delicious. It’s the perfect bowl of soup for the fall and the addition of the croutons will make you want to make this for dinner tonight. One rainy day I grabbed the ingredients and gave the recipe a try. Here's what happened.

Get the recipe: Ina Garten's Easy Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Croutons

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Ingredients for Ina Garten‘s Tomato Soup

The ingredients for this soup are pretty simple. You'll likely only have to grab a few things at the store. It's just a matter of combining them in a brilliant way, which Ina can always help with. For this recipe, you'll need olive oil, yellow onions, a can of crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, garlic, a pinch of saffron, orzo, heavy cream, thick slices of bread, butter and Gruyère cheese.

Related: Gordon Ramsay’s Attempt to Make Grilled Cheese on a Car Engine Leaves Fans Perplexed

How to Make Ina Garten‘s Tomato Soup

This is a recipe that takes a tad more effort, but it is well worth it in the end since you’re definitely not going to get these flavors in store-bought soup.

Heat some olive oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven and add your chopped onions. After browning for about 15 minutes, add the garlic, stirring and cooking for a minute. Add a large pinch of saffron, broth (mine was homemade, but you use boxed), tomatoes and a teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Ingredients for Ina Gartent's Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons<p>Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel</p>
Ingredients for Ina Gartent's Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel

While the soup is cooking, fill a medium-sized pot with water and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil, add your orzo and cook for exactly 7 minutes. Drain and add it to the soup. Stir in the cream, return to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes more, being careful not to let the orzo stick to the bottom of the pot.

Make the grilled cheese croutons by grating your Gruyère and adding buttered bread to a panini press. Scatter the cheese on top and grill until both sides are browned and crispy. Cut the sandwich into small squares. Serve the soup with the grilled cheese croutons on top.

Related: The Brilliant Ina Garten Meal Prep Hack That Will Save You Time, Money and Space

What I Thought of Ina Garten‘s Tomato Soup

Making this soup on a rainy fall day was truly the highlight of my week. The varying shades of orange, red and yellow in the pot looked like the prettiest cool-weather sunset. The fact that I made this in my grandmother’s yellow vintage Le Creuset made it even more special for me (and probably made it taste even better, too). After all, Ina Garten‘s recipes are usually updated classics that definitely feel like they came straight out of your grandma‘s recipe box.

This soup was creamy and tomatoey and perfectly peppery, and I didn’t need to add any extra salt either as the amounts listed in the recipe worked perfectly (thanks, Ina). The onion and garlic pieces melt down into the olive oil and create a silky, buttery base for the crushed tomatoes, and the elegant (and unexpected) pop of saffron. I wasn’t sure about the saffron since it can be quite expensive, but finding a tiny little glass vial of it at Trader Joe’s absolutely made my day. And it was only $6! The soup was so tasty that I couldn’t help taking a swig right from the ladle as I was packing up the leftovers.

Tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons<p>Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel</p>
Tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons

Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel

Putting the grilled cheese cubes in the soup is genius because there’s no need for another plate and therefore there’s no awkward balancing when you’re trying to have your soup and grilled cheese in front of the TV. The crispy cubes of bread have the perfect amount of cheese and just the right amount of crunch.

Tips for Making Ina Garten‘s tomato soup

  • Have multiple burners going. If you wait until the soup is finished to start the orzo, the timing will be off. Be sure to have both burners going. If you're feeling confident, make the grilled cheese after you start the orzo as well.

  • Butter your bread. Make sure to butter both sides of your bread before toasting and topping with the cheese. If you don't have a panini press, use a hot skillet or cast iron pan.

  • Use what you have. I didn't have crushed tomatoes, as the recipe called for, but instead used a 28-ounce can of peeled tomatoes. When I opened the can, I simply cut the tomatoes up in the can with a pair of kitchen shears and it worked out perfectly.

  • Don't skip the saffron. Sometimes you can get away with omitting or subbing out ingredients in recipes. Don't skip the saffron here. It adds a layer of depth to this soup that you'll seriously miss out on.

Next: 'I Tried Ina Garten's French Potato Salad & It's Practically Perfect'