Special equipment: Make this soup in ovenproof soup crocks.
A propane torch is a very handy-dandy piece of equipment, especially if your stove is not the greatest. Nearly all professional kitchens have them; they’re not very expensive and they can be used for a variety of sneaky tasks, such as easily caramelizing the top of crème brûlée or toasting meringues.
Half-assed alternative: Your broiler sucks. Your oven isn’t much better. Can’t find those ovenproof crocks anywhere. And you ain’t ponying up for a damn propane torch, ‘cause your kid’s got pyromaniac tendencies. You can simply toast cheese over the croutons on a sheet pan, and float them as garnish on the soup. Not exactly classic—but still good.
Game plan: You’ll need to make the bouquet garni before you begin.
For the croutons and cheese:
Beverage pairing: Argyle Pinot Noir, Oregon. Depending on the depth and meatiness of the stock you use in this soup, you could go with wines of varying weight. Pinot Noir captures the middle ground, and this one from Oregon brings deep plum and berry fruit as well as a touch of smoke and lush texture to match the soup.