The realization that I am a delicate Southern flower who requires thick, humid warmth to survive was not a gradual one for me. I remember vividly the exact moment that confirmed it.

It was my junior year of high school and I was sitting in my first period French class. Our class was held in a portable classroom (read: drafty old trailer) and the door was still open to welcome arriving students. And oh my ever-loving goodness, il faisait froid.*

*It was cold, y’all.

I was sitting in my desk, hunched over and hugging myself in an attempt to protect my vital organs from the piercing morning cold. Despite my efforts and the fact that I was wearing a winter coat (which, as you’ll learn, is basically miraculous for me), I was pretty sure I was dying of hypothermia.

As discomfort gave way to alarm, I wondered how much longer I should wait before raising my hand and asking to be carried into the main building, preferably by burly seniors in puffy coats. I looked around to see if anyone else was on the verge of death. A few people were chatting. A girl was shuffling around in her backpack. Ms. Moran was looking over some papers. Hm.

I began to calculate the distance I would have to walk upright — with vital organs relatively unprotected! — to pull the door shut in one last effort to save myself.

It was during this hellacious class (actually, I wouldn’t have minded a little fire just then — hold the brimstone, though) that I knew I would die if I were ever forced to move to any northern state. I remember realizing that at that very moment, people were walking around and going to work and surviving in, like, Vermont. I was aghast.

Since then, I’ve realized a few things. For instance, I’ve realized that I almost die each winter because I don’t wear enough clothing. I’m not running around in culottes or anything (you guys remember culottes?), but I have an aversion to layering my outfits. I end up pulling and tugging at things all day to get comfortable. Give me a short, lightweight sundress to slip on any old day.

As a result of my layering troubles, I’m often exposed to the elements. I’ll pat myself on the back for wearing a sweater, but then neglect to wear a coat over it. Or I’ll grab my coat on the way out the door, but decide not to worry about scarves or mittens. Or, like, real shoes.

I may or may not have been that person in college wearing rubber ducky flip-flops in the snow.

Anyway, I’m generally bad at cold weather, but I’m not totally hopeless. I may be dressing wholly inappropriately for the temperature, but at least I’ll be eating appropriately. When it’s cold, I start to crave oatmeal, warm drinks, chilis, stews, and soups.

This Roasted Tomato and Onion Bread Soup has been on a regular rotation at my house this winter. Something about serving piping hot soup over a toasty, buttered slice of bread feels rustic and satisfying to me. Best of all, each 1 cup serving of soup is full of veggies and has a little over 200 calories, making this recipe ideal for all the resolutioners out there! When I know I’m having a bowl of this with my dinner, I look forward to it all day long. So grab your snuggies, bundle up, and enjoy!

What are the temperatures like where you live? How do you brave the cold?

Healthy Roasted Tomato and Onion Bread Soup

Recipe by: Adapted from Eating Well
Yield: 6 1-cup servings

This bright soup is served piping hot over a slice of buttered bread. The result is splushy, hearty, and warms you to the soul. I sometimes make a batch of this soup and eat it for several days. When I’m ready to eat a serving, I toast a slice of bread while reheating the soup and then assemble as usual.

4 cups thinly sliced onions
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (I halved most but left some whole)
1/2 cup thinly sliced garlic, plus 1 whole clove, peeled and halved
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
6 slices hearty bread of your choice
2/3 cup chopped fresh basil
6 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese
butter for bread
dash of red wine vinegar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add thinly sliced onions and top with another tablespoon of olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Toss the onions to coat. Caramelize the onions my cooking them, stirring occasionally (but not constantly, so they can caramelize on the heat) for about 30 minutes or until they’re rich and brown.

In the meantime, I usually chop my tomatoes and garlic. Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray and add the tomatoes, garlic (except the halved clove), the last tablespoon of oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss tomatoes to coat. Roast these in the oven until the tomatoes are starting to fall apart and brown in spots, about 20 minutes.

When your onions are caramelized, move them to a big stockpot. Deglaze the skillet by pouring the chicken stock into it and bringing it to a simmer. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour the stock into the stockpot with the onions. Add tomato and garlic mixture to the pot as well, mixing gently to combine. Bring this to a simmer. Remove it from the heat, salt and pepper to taste (sometimes I add a dash of red wine vinegar at the end for a little zing), and cover it to keep it warm.

Meanwhile, line your bread up on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake it for about 10 minutes until it’s toasted (full disclosure: I just toast mine in the toaster). Rub a little butter over it and rub the halved garlic cloves on it while it’s still warm (full disclosure: I use jarred minced garlic here instead for more intense flavor). To serve the soup, place a slice of toast into each bowl and ladle a serving of soup on top. Top with 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese and a sprinkle of fresh basil. Serve immediately.

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34 Comments on Healthy Roasted Tomato and Onion Bread Soup

  1. MHA
    January 5, 2012 at 5:56 am (12 years ago)

    This soup looks evil! I’ll have to make some.

    Also, I can sympathize with your layering issues. Only when it gets below about 20 do I swap the fleece for a heavy leather jacket, and only when it’s really cold do I zip up the jacket! Under that? Short-sleeve shirt, of course.

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      January 5, 2012 at 6:00 am (12 years ago)

      A man after my own heart! The only reason I own a winter coat now is because my sister took pity on me and gave me hers. LOL.

      Thanks 🙂

  2. Nanette
    January 5, 2012 at 6:10 am (12 years ago)

    This is beautiful. I live in New Orleans and had birthday lunch with my mom yesterday at a place called Lilette on Magazine Street. My soup appetizer was very similar to this, except it had leeks in it as well and a poached egg on top. It was soooo tasty!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      January 5, 2012 at 6:14 am (12 years ago)

      Oh goodness, that sounds amazing! Now I want a bowl with a poached egg on top! Was it your birthday or your mom’s? Happy birthday either way!

      Thanks, Nanette!

  3. Coco aka Opera Girl
    January 5, 2012 at 6:54 am (12 years ago)

    Oh gosh, Julie. I’ve never appreciated San Francisco winters so much as I do now, having just returned from spending the holidays in Vancouver and the Okanogan Valley. Lesson learned — Canada is flippin’ cold!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      January 5, 2012 at 12:25 pm (12 years ago)

      I CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE. That reminds me of the time I visited Washington D.C. I was wrapped up like a flippin’ mummy, but locals were walking around like it was no biggie. Unbelievable.

      Canada’s a whole other beast. But we already knew that 😉 I bet it was beautiful!

  4. Heather
    January 5, 2012 at 9:37 am (12 years ago)

    This looks too yum! I’ll have to eat it all myself as hubby has a self-diagnosed allergy to tomatoes (in other words, he’s fussy).
    My childhood was spent in Arizona and California until my parents moved us to Germany when I was 12. It was the first time I had a winter coat and although I wore it, I still refused to wear a hat or gloves (so uncool) and frequently went to school with my hair wet which would result in frozen hair at the bus stop. It’s a wonder I didn’t get pneumonia, as my parents warned me -ha, I showed them!
    Now I live in the UK which is a damp, horrible cold and I’ve learned to love layers and anything that will keep me warm and dry. Unfortunately I have a natural ability to pile on the pounds in the winter – I’m like a polar bear – so this soup will do nicely, thank you! 🙂

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      January 5, 2012 at 12:24 pm (12 years ago)

      Ooh, the only thing harder than COLD is WET AND COLD! I’m glad to hear that you’ve adapted, though! Germany must have been a learning experience. Well, maybe. LOL. 😉

      Thanks, Heather!

  5. Gio
    January 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm (12 years ago)

    This sounds/looks like a labor of love. haha

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      January 5, 2012 at 2:19 pm (12 years ago)

      It does take a few steps, but I make a big batch to eat on for a few days. Love it! 🙂

  6. Lauren at Keep It Sweet
    January 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm (12 years ago)

    I am convinced that I belong in the south. If my family wasn’t in the northeast there is no way I’d submit myself to the cold winters. Seriously every time I come inside from the cold I need an hour to defrost. This soup, however, looks like the perfect thing!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      January 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm (12 years ago)

      I start taking hot baths in the winter just to warm up — even if I haven’t been outside! I freeze INSIDE the apartment! I think I’d be taking a LOT of baths if I lived in New York. LOL.

  7. Cookbook Queen
    January 5, 2012 at 2:09 pm (12 years ago)

    Ugh, I am soooo bad at cold weather too!! My husband is constantly getting frustrated because I won’t wear a coat. But they’re so restricting!! I hate driving in one, so what am I supposed to do, wear a coat to the car, take it off IN the car, then put it back ON when I get to where I am going?

    That is too much.

    However. I AM good at eating soup. And I’m pretty sure I could manage several bowls of this!!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      January 5, 2012 at 2:22 pm (12 years ago)

      Oh my gosh, ME TOO re: driving with layers! UGH! My scarf was trapped under my seatbelt the other day and it drove me nuts all the way to work! I tried to adjust about a billion times but just couldn’t get comfy. Compare that to just wearing a nice little sundress on a warm summer day and I know what I prefer hands down! Thanks, Kristan 🙂

  8. DessertForTwo
    January 5, 2012 at 2:40 pm (12 years ago)

    You hit the nail on the head! I’m a delicate Southern flower who thrives in stiffling heat and thick humidity, too! 🙂

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      January 5, 2012 at 3:04 pm (12 years ago)

      Even dry heat would be preferable to this freezing cold, but I do prefer a little steaminess in my summers. LOL. 😉

  9. Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe
    January 5, 2012 at 3:44 pm (12 years ago)

    This soup looks absolutely lovely. Perfect for a cold winter’s night. Although, I have to say, we’ve been blessed with way above seasonal average temperatures over the past few weeks. I’m starting to feel a little scared about what’s to come!

  10. Megan
    January 5, 2012 at 4:07 pm (12 years ago)

    This sounds like my ideal soup. I’m adding it to the list of soups I need to make this winter. I so much prefer the warm weather. Our winter has thankfully been pretty mild so far, but the past two days have been freezing!

  11. Joanne
    January 5, 2012 at 7:21 pm (12 years ago)

    Even growing up in the northeast, I am ALWAYS cold. Always. Even in 90 degree weather, you’ll find me perfectly comfortable in sweatshirt. It’s craziness.

    Maybe I’m supposed to live in the soup.

    Either way…I’m SURE I’m supposed to make this soup! Super yum!

  12. Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen
    January 5, 2012 at 7:44 pm (12 years ago)

    I’m just the opposite – I love the cold! VA summers are soooo humid and unpleasant.

    I have the same issues with layering, but I have a couple solutions: tights and bodysuits. People think I’m crazy, but I wear tights under my work pants all throughout the winter (sounds uncomfortable, but they don’t move around so it’s not bad.) The bodysuit thing sounds even weirder, but I hate constantly adjusting a tank or t-shirt under a sweater. The bodysuit stays put and keeps you warm!

    The soup looks great by the way!

  13. Bunny
    January 5, 2012 at 10:51 pm (12 years ago)

    This sounds incredible, I’ve already bookmarked it. I went from living in Pennsylvania to coming down south to Kentucky. What a difference! I love it here!

  14. Karen
    January 6, 2012 at 11:16 pm (12 years ago)

    Hi Julie – you’re right about Canada. I live in Alberta and luckily the blue in my lips matches my eyes. I’ve lived in Canada all my life and you never really get used to the cold. It’s not cool to turn blue and shiver incessantly though, so we always wear lipstick and move around. A vacation to the States is something I dream about 8 months in advance. Enough complaining, I’ve got to go make some soup!

  15. Jamie
    January 7, 2012 at 5:18 am (12 years ago)

    I’ve lived in Florida most of my life, and can’t even comprehend real cold. Christmas and New Year’s Eve are usually spent in t-shirts outside, and it’s not uncommon for 80 degree weather to allow for swimming around Christmas.

    That said, we got a little taste of winter this past week, when we woke up to 30 degree weather, and the entire area panicked. I wore two pair of tights under jeans, and both the jackets I own, just trying to stay warm. Cuddling up inside under 15 blankets with this soup seems like a wonderful idea.

  16. Steph@TheChickpeaChickadee
    January 8, 2012 at 12:22 am (12 years ago)

    This looks fabulous!! Love your food styling. I just came across your blog and I love it:)

  17. sayre weir
    January 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm (12 years ago)

    Enjoyed reading your post. I’m on my way back to the, er, rather chilly land of Vermont…warm thoughts all around!

  18. Smith
    June 12, 2012 at 10:44 pm (12 years ago)

    I just discovered this whilst browsing through your wonderful recipes. The weather in England is, as ever, unpredictable during the summer, and it’s been very cold the past few days, so I needed something like this to cheer me up. Sometimes I make roasted peppers with tomatoes and serve them on ciabatta so all the juices soak into the bread, and the flavours and textures of this soup strongly reminded me of that. It was delicious, even with parsley instead of basil on top. I halved the recipe and ate the entire pot (guess that cancels out the “healthy”). This will definitely be making its way into my regular recipe rotation whenever it gets chilly.

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      June 19, 2012 at 2:54 am (12 years ago)

      So glad you loved it!! I eat just about the whole pot myself and don’t halve the recipe, so I hear ya! 🙂


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