As promised, here is the recipe for the Parmesan Garlic Polenta Croutons. Now I thought these would be great in the tomato soup, particularly because one of my favorite Panera soups (Creamy Tomato, now discontinued --grrr) is served with Asiago Cheese Croutons. The only problem is that when I put these in the soup, they softened pretty quickly and became mushy. So, we decided to either put them in one at a time, or to dip them in the soup, and that was delicious. I recently had a salad at a restaurant with Jalapeno Polenta Croutons, which were deep fried, and those were good too. There's a lot of possibilities here - I've even seen someone on Food Network make polenta with chicken broth instead of water, which I'm sure would be great. The thickness of the croutons depends on how much polenta you use and how big your pan is, so you can always adjust that depending on how you like the croutons. This isn't an exact recipe, so use you judgement. I noted about how much of each ingredient I used. My garlic salt got a little toasty, as you can see in the picture, but the great thing about these is that you can season them anyway you want!
Parmesan Garlic Polenta Croutons
Instant polenta (I used 1 cup)
Grated Parmesan cheese (I used ~1/4 cup)
Herbs to taste (rosemary, thyme, etc)
Olive oil for drizzling
Garlic powder or salt to taste
1. Prepare instant polenta according to package directions, using a whisk. I decided on 1 cup because that's what my package called for.
2. Add in herbs, if using, and grated Parmesan cheese.
3. Coat a baking sheet or pyrex/ceramic dish with cooking spray (I used a 13 x 9 and mine were somewhat thin, I probably could have used an 11 x 7 and been fine). Spread the polenta mixture into the pan quickly, and spread evenly with a spatula. Place pan in refrigerator to cool and set for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F.
4. Cut the polenta into squares or triangles (or any shape you prefer really!).
5. Drizzle both sides of polenta pieces with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder/salt (if using). Bake at 400F for about 45 minutes, or until crispy. (Mine took a little longer to crisp.) Turn them half-way through to make sure they get crispy on both sides. Cool on a rack when done.
6. Best if used the same day, but you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat them until crisp the next day.
Source: Adapted from Proud Italian Cook