With Christmas just around the corner and the holiday season in full swing, this means plenty of time with family. And with this extra time, the quirks start to come out of the woodwork. It’s interesting how, no matter how old we grow, family members will hold on to certain, randomly assigned nicknames.
My everyday family nickname is “Al,” and it feels extremely strange––like I’m in trouble––when I’m given the full “Allison” treatment. My sister uses neither, instead calling me “Sally Anne” or “Steven;” the reasons why she has chosen these terms of endearment are still a mystery. What may be worse than my nicknames is the fact that I respond to them. Maybe I’ve just given up hope, or maybe I secretly love them (likely the latter).
Nicknames, nice ones, are assigned to those nearest and dearest to us, and what’s nearest and dearest to me, other than my family dog, Murphy Brown (her nicknames include but are not limited to: Sir Murph (she’s a she), Sir Murphalot, Murph, and Moogles McDog––and yes, she responds to them all), is food.
Food deserves, and often gets nicknames, not only by me and my family, but the entire world. You may remember the Parks and Recreation episode of Tom Haverford’s food nicknames in this clip, for example. Or, staying within the Day family vein, raspberries become “rasbos.”
At this point in the post, I’m sure you’re itching to know where I’m going with this. Well, you’ll be happy to know I have given this recipe a term of endearment (auld slang syne?).
I welcomed this recipe (her?) to my inner circle (squad?) with the nickname, Tommy Croutawndra. I may or may not have been (I was) overtired when I nicknamed it, but it stuck, as nicknames do, and I’ve grown to love it. The recipe for this “Tommy Croutawndra” or Creamy Tomato Soup with Cheddar and Dill Socca Croutons is my ideal late fall/early winter comfort food. Tomato soup and grilled cheese are a classic combo, and I don’t mean to trifle with it, but these sturdy, crispy, cheesy, warm chickpea croutons are a fun variation. The croutons are easy to make, just like regular socca (I’ve done a more traditional socca prepartion in this past post), and can be made-ahead, reheated in a low oven when you call their name. The croutons are wonderful by themselves for “apps,” but benefit from a dunk in the slightly acidic, gently sweet, tomatoey bliss that is this soup.
If you’ll please refer to the photo below, the not-safe-for-work crouton shot, I think you’ll be as excited for this recipe for “Tommy Croutawndra” as I am.
Whatever slang you attach to this recipe, it’s classic comfort food made for the modern palate, and it’s “totes dee-lish.”
Wishing you a holly jolly season with [insert family and friend nicknames here] and good food, including lots of “apps” and “zerts,” “obvi.”
- 2 cups chickpea flour
- 2 ounces (3/4 cup grated) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh dill
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or unsalted butter
- ½ large or 1 small onion, diced
- 2–3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- salt, to tast
- ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup coconut milk or whole milk
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Make the croutons: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line an 8x8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine all crouton ingredients except water; stir in water and mix until fully incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, until top is dry and socca is set. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and slice into 16 squares; cut each square in half diagonally for 32 triangles.
- Move oven rack to top-third of oven. Preheat broiler to high. Line a large-rimmed baking sheet with high-temperature parchment or foil (grease with a little oil if using foil). Line triangles on baking sheet and broil for 3–4 minutes, until tops begin to brown. Remove from oven and enjoy warm or room temperature.
- Make the soup: In a large pot, heat oil or butter over medium. Sauté onion and garlic for 5–8 minutes, until softened. Add tomatoes, broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Puree in batches in a blender or use an immersion blender directly in the pot. Return to pot if using a blender, stir in milk and vinegar, and warm until heated through.
- To serve: Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with croutons. Serve additional croutons on the side.