This year-round soup is just as tasty served hot, cold or at room temperature. If you're making it when it's warm outside, simply cool the soup down on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes before chilling it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Rich in vitamins A, C, K, B6, folate, thiamin, niacin, potassium and magnesium, tomatoes contain 2 grams of fiber per one-cup serving. Tomatoes are also rich in beta-carotene, which helps protect skin against sun damage, and lycopene, which makes skin less sensitive to UV rays, all athletes who train, race and play outdoors should consume plenty of tomatoes (in addition to wearing sunscreen). Lycopene can also help improve bone mass—great news for runners, triathletes and other athletes who regularly practice high-impact activities.
10 to 12 plum tomatoes, cut in half
1 head unpeeled garlic, top trimmed
1 tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp red-wine vinegar
4 slices pumpernickel (or your choice of) bread
6 slices sharp cheddar cheese
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Place entire head of garlic on a small piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with a scant amount of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold up foil so garlic is covered and sit directly on oven rack; roast for about one hour or until garlic is soft and lightly caramelized.
Place sliced tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 45 minutes, or until tomatoes are wilted and oozing a bit. Remove garlic and tomatoes from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Add tomatoes to a soup pot over medium heat. Holding garlic by the root end, cut side down over the pot, squeeze out the garlic. Add red-wine vinegar, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Blend with an immersion blender (or transfer to a food processor or blender, being careful to hold a kitchen towel over the top of the processor or blender to avoid splattering hot soup) until mostly smooth. Keep warm on the stove.
Heat a large nonstick pan or griddle over medium heat. Brush bread slices with a little bit of olive oil. Place oiled side of bread down in pan and top with 1 1/2 slices of cheese. Place the other slice of bread, oiled side up, on top. Cook sandwich for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until bread is lightly browned and cheese is melted inside.
Move sandwiches to a cutting board and slice each sandwich into six to eight croutons. Top bowls of soup with croutons.
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