Vegan Pantry Tomato Soup with Homemade Croutons comes together quickly thanks to pantry staples. Delicious, healthy comfort food!
Veganuary and comfort food emergencies
Before I get to my Vegan Pantry Tomato Soup with Homemade Croutons, I apologize: I have to rant.
I live in Southern Wisconsin. It’s winter.
Today, our low temperature—minus 29º F—is approximately the same as the that of the North Pole. As in, the tippy-top of the Arctic freakin’ circle. Actually, if you take wind chill into account (-50º F), it’s worse here! More of the same is expected tomorrow.
You can bet that I will be huddled under a fluffy blanket in front of the fireplace, consuming copious amounts of emergency comfort food. Which brings me to…
Vegan Pantry Tomato Soup with Homemade Croutons
This last installment in my Veganuary series is fast, easy comfort food at its finest, folks.
Tomatoes and acidity
I like to use a combination of tinned tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes (you can also use whole tomatoes in juice and crush them yourself). Whenever they’re dealing with tomato sauces and soups, a lot of people will add sugar to counteract bitterness and acidity. I try to avoid that by using naturally sweet ingredients like carrots and sweet onions (or, in this case, shallots).
If the final soup is too acidic, you can sprinkle 1/2 tsp of baking soda over the top. The bicarbonate will neutralize some of the excess acid in the soup. Adding a small amount of non-dairy cream like coconut milk or vegan yogurt will add sweetness without the refined sugar.
You might be tempted to use a typical Italian herb mix for this soup, but I would advise against it. You risk the soup tasting more like marinara sauce than soup. My personal preference is to opt for a complimentary herb like tarragon, savory, or even a small amount of dill. I’ve found that dried tarragon leaves work perfectly. Or, leave the dried herbs out altogether and tear some fresh basil leaves over the soup right before eating.
Store-bought vegetable broth is an easy pantry option for this tomato soup recipe. However, I like to make my own vegetable broth. I keep vegetable odds-and-ends like mushroom stems, leek greens, and the like in the freezer for exactly this purpose. (Don’t use potatoes: the starch will make the broth cloudy.)
Vegetable broth is super-easy to make in the Instant Pot. Simply caramelize (deeply brown) the cut side of 2 onion halves in a small amount of olive oil using the sauté function (the highest setting). I highly recommend also adding 4–8 ounces of cremini mushrooms to this step. You’ll need to sauté the onions and mushrooms on high for 5–6 minutes.
Then, add any vegetable scraps you might have, along with a cup of baby carrots (whole is fine), 2 celery stalks, 2 cloves of garlic (you can leave them in their skin), a bay leaf, a handful of parsley, 1/2 tbsp of black peppercorns, and enough water to cover the vegetables.
Dried mushrooms (1/4 cup or so) are also a wonderful addition: I like porcini, chanterelles, wood ears, shiitake, or a mix.
Next, lock the lid of your Instant Pot and pressure cook on high for 40 minutes. When the cycle finishes, manually—carefully—release the pressure. Run the broth through a fine-mesh strainer. Chill and keep the broth in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or freeze it up to 6 months.
For the croutons, just about any rustic loaf from your grocer’s bakery will work. For this soup, I used part of a boule that I had in the freezer.
My current favorite seasoning mix for these croutons is Sunny Paris from Penzey’s spices. It contains shallots, chives, green peppercorn, dill weed, basil, tarragon, chervil, and bay leaf. It’s also perfect for soups and salad dressings.
Here’s how the Vegan Pantry Tomato Soup with Homemade Croutons comes together:
You might have noticed that in the preparation collage above, I’m using a coarse-mesh colander rather than a strainer. This might be because our youngest thought that our ex-colander would make a neat-o hat. He also discovered that it was fun to flatten the thing by repeatedly pounding it on the floor. O.o
Rather than straining the soup, you could also buzz it thoroughly in a high-powered blender or using an immersion blender. If you choose that route, take proper precautions for working with hot liquids (e.g., avoid splashes, work in small batches, vent the blender to release steam, etc.). The soup won’t be quite as silky this way, but it WILL be delicious.
Making the croutons is a simple matter of thawing, cubing, tossing with olive oil and seasonings, and baking until golden. I prepare the croutons while the soup simmers.
I always make extra croutons because they’re fantastic to have on hand for salads.
And, just like that, you have a steaming bowl of delicious comfort food:
Refrigerate any leftover soup up to 4 days. Or freeze in airtight containers up to 6 months.
That’s it! I hope you love this “emergency comfort food” dinner idea. Stay warm out there!
I’m linking my recipe for Vegan Pantry Tomato Soup with Homemade Croutons with:
- #CookBlogShare, a great food blogger recipe-share hosted this week at Easy Peasy Foodie.
- #CookOnceEatTwice, for recipes that are just as good left-over as they are when you made them, hosted by Searching for Spice.
- The What’s For Dinner Sunday Linkup at The Lazy Gastronome.
- Delicious Dishes Recipe Party, a weekly link party where bloggers share their most delicious recipes and check out other bloggers’ amazing recipes, hosted by Walking on Sunshine.
Vegan Pantry Tomato Soup with Homemade Croutons is a quick, easy, hearty serving of healthy comfort food for chilly nights. The croutons are made from any rustic loaf from the bakery, simply cubed up, tossed in olive oil and seasonings, and then baked until golden and crispy.
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1/4 cup shallot finely minced
- 1 tbsp garlic finely minced
- 2 tbsp carrot finely grated (I use 2 baby carrots)
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp dried tarragon leaves
- 28 oz tomato sauce
- 2 cups vegetable broth (use less if you like a thicker soup)
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 2 tbsp coconut milk or vegan yogurt (optional; see Recipe Note #1)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda (optional; see Recipe Note #2)
- 3 cups cubed bread (from a rustic, crusty loaf like a boule)
- 4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 tbsp seasoning mix
- 1/4 tsp coarse salt (if your seasoning mix contains salt, omit the coarse salt here)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper freshly ground
Preheat oven to 375º F.
Sauté the minced shallot and garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil until softened, 5–7 minutes. Add the tarragon leaves and finely grated baby carrots. Sauté an additional minute. Add in all tomatoes, the broth, salt, and pepper. Simmer on low for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the croutons (see below).
After 20 minutes, run the soup through a coarse-mesh strainer, pressing firmly on the solids and scraping the bottom of the strainer (or see Recipe Note #3). Pour the strained soup back into the pot and bring back up to temperature before serving with the croutons.
Mix 3 cups of cubed bread with 4 tbsp olive oil (add the oil in stages: e.g., 1 tbsp, mix, another tablespoon, mix, and so on), seasoning mix, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
Spread the bread cubes over a cooling rack set into a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden and crispy, about 15 minutes.
Cool the croutons and use for soups and salads. Keep any leftovers frozen in an airtight ziploc back for later use.
- Add this if you'd prefer a creamier texture. It's also helpful if the soup is a bit on the bitter side
- Sprinkle this over the soup if it's too acidic: the bicarbonate will neutralize some of the excess acid.
- Alternatively, buzz thoroughly with an immersion blender or give the soup a whirl in a high-powered blender. Use extreme caution when blending hot liquids!