Who doesn’t know tomato soup and grilled cheese go fantastically together?
It is spring here in Connecticut and approaching Memorial day weekend. As with many years, New England never really has a true Spring. The temperatures fluctuate like crazy, so here I find myself on a foggy cool day in May wanting some tomato soup and grilled cheese.
I searched my own blog to see how I have done it in the past because I make a great tomato soup. Heaven to Betsy, I find I never published a creamy tomato soup recipe. So here it is:
INGREDIENTS for Soup
1 Large onion, divided. 1/2 diced and cut into quarters (You can use 2 med onions)
4 – 7 Large garlic cloves. If using Elephant garlic, 3 cloves will do nicely. Otherwise, 4 – 7, peeled
3 – 4 fresh plum tomatoes, sliced into 3rds (about 1/2 inch thick
1 Red bell pepper, seeded and cut into big chunks
1 large shallot, diced
4 stalks celery inner stalks. Celery AND celery leaves diced (You won’t believe how much flavor the leaves have)
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 32oz can/box low/no fat or salt chicken stock (to make this vegetarian – substitute with Vegetable stock)
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 28oz can diced tomatoes with basil
2 cups low sodium V8 Juice
1 Cup cooking sherry
1 TBS sugar
4 – 6 fresh basil leaves
1 package cream cheese (light or regular – skip to make this vegan)
1 Pint Heavy Cream (Can use light cream or whole/2% milk)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (Shredded, grated) Skip to make this vegan – you may just need to add more salt
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450
- Put the quartered onion, whole garlic, fresh tomatoes and red bell pepper on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 TBS of olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 – 30 minutes or until the vegetables start to shrivel and slightly char. Not BURNED.
- In the mean time, in a large stock pot (you will need at least a 6 – 7 qt pot), add the other TBS of olive oil, chopped onions, shallots, and celery and celery leaves. Saute and slightly caramelize.
- Add in the roasted vegetable, chicken stock, both cans of tomatoes, V8 juice, sherry and sugar. Let simmer for 2 hours stirring occasionally.
- Put the cream/milk into a small sauce pot and warm over low heat, stirring often. This will bring it to the same temperature as the soup so it does not curdle when you add it.
- Use an emersion blender or ladle the soup into a blender (in batches), add in basil leaves, parmesan cheese, cream cheese and puree.
- Strain if you want a smooth tomato soup. Me – I like the extra pulp.
- Put all back into a clean pot and bring to a light simmer over med-low heat.
- Add in the cream. Continue to stir and taste. Adjust seasoning – salt, pepper – as needed.
- Let simmer for 15 minutes, then it is ready to serve!
TIPS: You can skip the roasting, but I would recommend getting a jar/can of roasted red peppers to add. It really makes this soup. Do not Skip the sautéing of the vegetables.
There are several ways to make grilled cheese, however, the most important is how to sear the bread, Crisping the bread on both sides makes a big difference, especially if you add more than cheese.
2 slices quality bread (No holes – or cheese will seep through and nothing left in your sandwich)
1 TBS butter
3 – 4 slices of cheese – you can mix this up
- In a cast iron skillet (or other pan you like), Heat the pan over med heat.
- Butter both slices of the bread on both sides.
- Place one side down in the pan for 30 – 40 seconds, just enough to sear it and slightly brown it
- Next build your sandwich. Place the bread on a plate or cutting board raw side down. On the side you just browned, add the cheese to one side of the bread. Place the other slice of bread on top.
- Place the sandwich in the hot pan and sear on one side for 2 minutes (over med – med low heat), then flip and do the other side.
- Take off heat, give it a minute to sit, then slice and serve with the soup.
** You could do it under a broiler, however, I have found the browning uneven with this method.
Add meat: thin slice of ham, pepperoni, turkey, prosciutto (or other deli meat)
Add greens: spinach, arugula, kale or other green you like
Add tomato slices
Add herbs: basil, cilantro, parsley
Add hot pepper
Add some spices
I hope you can enjoy this year round. It really is the true food paring! Have fun with it!