Three words: grilled cheese croutons.
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It's that time of year where I have to constantly remind myself not to splurge at the garden store just yet, because surely another cold spell is just around the corner. And while the South debates whether it's actually time for our winter coats to migrate to the attic, my cooking takes on a split personality. On warmer days, I'm flipping through my recipe box to find a spring-inspired vegetable dish; when Mother Nature reminds me it's still March, I crawl back to my winter comfort foods.

The one thing I can count on to bridge the gap is soup. After a long winter of exhausting my go-to medleys, I ventured over to the Barefoot Contessa for some springtime inspiration. Her easy tomato soup immediately caught my eye–how could it not with grilled cheese croutons floating mid bowl?

Roasted Tomato, Garlic and Basil Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
Credit: Lauri Patterson / Getty Images

The ingredient list and steps are as simple as it gets, but that doesn't mean you should underestimate the flavor. Golden-brown, sauteed onions and garlic start the base on the soup, which really gets going with the addition of chicken stock, tomatoes, spices. A simple pinch of saffron adds a subtly earthy yet slightly sweet addition to the mix before simmering. The surprise hit for my family was the orzo. While the soup is hearty on its own, something about the bite of orzo mingling with the rich, creamy broth really fills out the bowl.

Ina's true ingenuity shines through in the grilled cheese crotons. Sure, the combination of tomato soup and grilled cheese is nothing new, but she's eliminated the need to keep your sandwich bites and soup slurps separate–pure genius. I garnished each bowl with a few grilled squares and served the extras on a plate to share. Not surprisingly, they were gone long before our bowls were empty.

Though the grilled cheese may not have lasted through dinner, the soup itself made enough for several nights. Here's hoping the warm weather really catches on before I feel the need to make another pot.

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