The minute the temperature cools down it’s comfort food time. What’s better than a creamy tomato soup with a luscious and decadent grilled cheese to say hello to winter? We all grew up with the uber-famous and cherished Campbell’s Tomato Soup, but now that we are grown up and our taste buds are more sophisticated, our tomato soup needs to reach new levels and leave the can behind.
The irony is that by this time of the year tomatoes are not at their best so I suggest you to run to the store and buy them a few days in advance so they ripen fully. Tip: Never ever store the tomatoes in the fridge.
This is my modern take on Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese, which is fancy enough to be a dinner menu when you expect company:
Ingredients for the soup
12 large ripe tomatoes (about 4 pounds) quartered
¼ cup of olive oil
¼ cup of the best quality balsamic vinegar you can buy
4 large garlic cloves not peeled
½ cup of chopped yellow onions
Salt and pepper
2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1 spoon of sugar
1 spoon of ketchup
1 cup of fresh bay leaves (loosely packed)
Place the first six ingredients in a non-reactive baking dish. Roast them in a 400 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes until the tomatoes are charred. Let them cool a bit.
Squeeze the garlic out of its peel. Place all the contents in a blender with the chicken or vegetable stock. Add the spoon of sugar if needed, the spoon of ketchup, and the fresh bay leaves. Turn on your trusted blender (or Vitamix) and blend until very smooth.
You can make it ahead of time and refrigerate until needed. If you are not afraid of fat or cream, add a couple spoons when warming it up. Be careful not to get carried away with too much cream or you will lose the wonderful tanginess of the roasted tomatoes.
The Ultimate Grilled Cheese
Use two thick slices of a wonderful whole grain bread. Spread some Dijon mustard on one side (if you ever go to France bring back a couple jars of their supermarket brand-Amora. It’s divine!) and honey on the other. Add one mozzarella slice (or two) and one slice of Havarti cheese (or two) topped with a couple of basil leaves.
Bring out your Panini press or a heavy skillet and some melted butter. Press down your sandwich until the scrumptious cheeses melt.
Such a light meal leaves plenty of room for dessert. Reach out to your recipe box and bake a scrumptious apple pie (or buy one if you are feeling lazy). It will be the perfect ending for this all American menu.
Pretty china enhances any food, so look for a lovely soup bowl and coordinating plate for the warm cheese bite. This black and white china designed by Christian Lacroix would be perfect. Can’t you picture those bold stripes against the bright red of the tomatoes? This design can be appropriate for dinner or lunch. It gives a punch of style with presentation. Isn’t that what this meal is all about? (See this Copacabana Bowl and others here.)
Share your recipe experience with me: [email protected]
~Patricia de Niemeyer Kahane~