1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery (from the center of the bunch with some leaves), chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped or grated
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
1 ciabatta loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup garlic flakes or powder
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 bag Smartfood brand popcorn (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Pre-heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat with two turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add in the onions, carrots, celery and garlic, and cook for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables become soft.
Add in the stock and crushed tomatoes.
Bring up to a bubble, then reduce the heat until the soup is simmering and cook for 10-15 minutes. While the soup is simmering away, mix together the bread cubes, 2 tablespoons of EVOO, garlic flakes, cheese, and oregano in a large mixing bowl and spread them out evenly onto a cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until crispy and golden. You may have to occasionally give them a turn or two so all the sides get browned.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with the croutons or a handful of cheesy popcorn.