‘Barefoot Contessa’: Ina Garten Revealed Her Favorite Comfort Food — and the Recipe Is So Easy

Ina Garten has made millions from her easy recipes and likeable personality. The Food Network chef is the host of Barefoot Contessa, and between her show and her cookbook, she’s become a household name.

Garten loves comfort food, but she has one dish that she absolutely can’t resist.

'Barefoot Contessa' star Ina Garten
‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Ina Garten wasn’t planning to become a chef

Garten actually once worked in the White House, where she was a member of the Office of Management and Budget. Though Garten had a good career, it wasn’t fulfilling, and she wanted to more. She purchased a specialty foods store in East Hampton, New York, on a whim. She and her husband, Jeffrey, immediately relocated.

Garten’s store took off, and she eventually began writing cookbooks. From there, Garten caught Food Network’s attention. She agreed to sign on for one season of a show way back in 2003. And now, 16 years later, she’s still filming.

Ina Garten prepares a cocktail on 'Late Night With Seth Meyers'
Ina Garten prepares a cocktail on ‘Late Night With Seth Meyers’ | Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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Ina Garten can’t say no to tomato soup and grilled cheese

During an interview with House Beautiful, Garten revealed her favorite comfort food. “Hmm, tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich, I’d say,” Garten said, laughing. “But it has it has to be a really good grilled cheese sandwich, on bakery white bread with grated gruyere.” Thankfully, Garten put together a homemade tomato soup recipe for Food Network — complete with gruyere grilled cheese croutons.

Here’s what you’ll need:
For the soup:
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
Large pinch of saffron threads
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup orzo
1/2 cup heavy cream
Grilled Cheese Croutons, recipe follows
For the grilled cheese croutons:
4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices country white bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions. Cook 15 minutes on medium-low until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook an additional minute. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, saffron, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring soup to a boil, then set heat to low, and let soup simmer 15 minutes.

Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 7 minutes. Once orzo is cooked, drain it and add to the tomato soup. Add in cream as well. Allow soup to simmer an additional 10 minutes. (Orzo will cook completely in the soup.)

To make croutons, heat a pan or panini press. brush bread with melted butter. Add gruyere to bread and top with an additional bread slice. Cook in panini press about 5 minutes, or, if using a pan, about 2-3 minutes per side. Make sure cheese is fully melted and bread is crisp. Allow grilled cheeses to rest 1 minute, then cut into 1-inch cubes and add to the soup.

Ina Garten has written a dozen cookbooks

Ina Garten’s cookbooks are what put her on the map in Food Network’s eyes. Garten learned plenty about food after opening her Barefoot Contessa store, and she published her first cookbook in 1999.

Since then, Garten has written a dozen cookbooks, her most recent of which came out in October 2020. All of her books have a different theme, but they each feature easy recipes using mostly basic ingredients.