Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cold Weather Comfort Food: Homemade Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

This chilly weather has been putting me in the mood for some cold weather comfort food. So earlier this week I whipped up some homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese. Simple, yes. Delicious? You'd better believe it!

Tomato Soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit

1/2 stick unsalted butter
10 sprigs thyme, tied together
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 28-ounce cans tomatoes (I used Muir Glen fire roasted)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup (or more) heavy cream or half-n-half
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add thyme, onion, and garlic. Cook until onion is completely soft and translucent, 10–12 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; add tomato paste. Continue cooking, stirring often, until paste has begun to caramelize in spots, 5–6 minutes.
Add tomatoes with juices, 1 tsp. sugar, and 8 cups water to pot. I like the fire roasted tomatoes because they add a nice smokiness to the soup.

Increase heat to high; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer until flavors meld and soup reduces to about 2 quarts (8 cups), 45–55 minutes.

Remove soup from heat; let cool slightly. Discard thyme sprigs. Working in small batches, purée soup until smooth (I used a hand blender in the pot so I'd have less to clean up). Return to pot if you've pureed in a blender.

Stir in 1/4 cup cream or half-n-half. Simmer soup until flavors meld, 10–15 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I generally find soup requires quite a bit of salt, so don't be shy. Add more cream, if desired.

The resulting soup is homey and despite the cream, relatively light. I made a full batch and have been eating it for lunch all week.

For the best grilled cheese, I prefer hearty bakery breads rather than standard sliced sandwich bread. We used Whole Foods Rosemary Sourdough. For cheese, we used what we had on hand, havarti. It melted quite well and had more pizzazz than standard cheddar. We used a panini press, but you can do it on your stove top just as well. A little rosemary salt from Beautiful Briny Sea and some butter on the bread, and voila, gooey, delicious, crusty grilled cheese! Dip the corner into your soup and you'll be transported right back to childhood.



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