One of my fondest memories as a kid is coming in from playing out in the snow and having a hot bowl of tomato soup. Most of the time there would be a grilled cheese sandwich to accompany it. I would still very happily eat the Campbell's Tomato Soup that comes concentrated and needs to be cooked with water or milk. When I saw the recipe for Spicy Tomato Soup, I couldn't wait to try it on a cold winter's day. Since this was a "nicer" version of the soup I loved to eat as a kid, I zhuzh'd it up by making grilled cheese croutons. Okay, so they're really just cut up squares of a grilled cheese sandwich, but it sounds fancier that way.
I had all of the necessary ingredients, except for the fresh basil leaves, so I just subbed in dried since I always have that in the spice cabinet. Speaking of spice, what makes this spicy is crushed red pepper flakes. For some that may not be very spicy. I put them on pasta, pizza, and a bunch of other foods. Meaning that I'm not avert to some spiciness. The recipe calls for 1 teaspoon, but says you can start with 1/2 and add more. I figured it wouldn't be too bad with the full amount and just went with that. Looking back, I wish I had started with half.
It wasn't that it was too spicy for me to eat, it just wasn't enjoyable without a little something. The recipe calls for an optional creme fraiche as garnish, probably to cut the spice a little. I had cream cheese and sour cream on hand, so the first bowl I had got a dollop of sour cream and that helped quite a bit. Later in the week I had the soup for lunch at work and a chunk of cream cheese did just as well. Both of them added more creaminess to an already creamy soup that didn't previously have any dairy in it. That's something I've appreciated so far about both of the soups I've made from this cookbook. I'll definitely be making this again with a little adjustment with the red pepper flakes.