Instant Pot: Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

There's no better thing to pair with a grilled cheese sandwich than tomato soup. I'm not exactly sure how it came to be but it doesn't matter. It's good and it's what's for dinner! Because I paired this soup with my 'Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich', I knew the soup had to be healthier. Traditional tomato soups usually include the addition of cream but for a healthier alternative without the extra fat and calories, I used bread in place of cream. The bread in the following recipe breaks down and is pureed, resulting in a creamy texture.

I came across this recipe on my online Cook's Illustrated subscription and I love that it was so easy to make. I halved the original recipe so it serves 3-4 with enough for leftovers. This is another recipe great to make in advance and freeze. Sometimes there are those nights where we could enjoy a grilled cheese sandwich and this soup is better than the stuff in the can... and healthier too!

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup
recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1-2 medium garlic cloves, minced
pinch of hot red pepper flakes (optional)
1 small bay leaf
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 large slices good quality sandwich bread, cubed (I used poolish baguette)
fresh thyme leaves for garnish
extra virgin olive oil for garnish (optional)

In your Instant Pot:

Plug in the IP with insert set in place

Prep your sandwich bread by removing the crusts and cubed into bite sized pieces.

Press SAUTE and add oil. When hot, add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes (if using), and bay leaf. Cook while stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in the crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, brown sugar and bread.

Secure the lid of the IP and ensure the valve is set to SEALING.

Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 3 minutes on HIGH pressure.

The display will reflect ON while the IP comes to pressure. Allow a few minutes for your IP to come to pressure.

Once at pressure, the display will reflect 3 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.

When the IP beeps after pressure cooking for 3 minutes, turn the setting on top of your IP to VENTING. Doing so allows the IP to quickly release any remaining pressure (also known as QPR or QR). I use a wooden spoon to carefully turn the setting to avoid close contact with the potential steam. You may also want to turn your IP away from cabinets to allow the released steam to escape freely. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen).

Remove and discard bay leaf; Puree the soup with an immersion blender in the pot {or in batches with a regular blender.} 

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve soup in individual bowls. Sprinkle each portion with pepper, thyme leaves and drizzle with a garnish of olive oil if desired.