I’ve been on a comfort food kick lately – Travis has been sick, I’m still getting over nagging ickiness, and I’ve been busy at work. Really, that’s all just an excuse I use to make food that is delicious and just a *little* naughty (I love cheese. I would be vegan in an instant if it weren’t for that fabulous dairy product… perhaps in time I will get over it!). But really, it’s just good food and no shame in that.
Anywhosie, at the farmers’ market last week one of the farms was selling bags of beautiful fresh-frozen heirloom tomatoes. I could not resist their beauty and promise of summer’s last sweetness – which in this cold weather feels like a long long time ago. And so I began formulating a plan for a tomato soup and grilled cheese combo for my sick Travis… and me to enjoy. :)
I’ve recently discovered Kathy Patalsky’s Healthy Happy Life blog and I knew she could steer me in the right direction. And alas, Eureka! She has a recipe for roasted tomato soup that sounded perfect (and it was).
I made a few changes based on my tastes and what I had available… I roasted the tomatoes from frozen (worked fine), I did roast 3 large cloves of fantastic farm-fresh garlic with the tomatoes (suggested as an option), I threw in a handful of spinach before pureeing, and in terms of herbs/spices, I didn’t have fresh thyme so I used dry, and I added 5 or 6 fresh-frozen basil cubes I had thrown into the freezer at the end of summer (thawed in a soup pot before adding the veggies and pureeing the lot). The basil was a GREAT addition, as were the red pepper flakes I finished the soup with for some lovely warmth.
Travis and I agreed, it was the best dang tomato soup we had EVER tasted. Stay tuned for what I did with the leftovers (after enjoying them with the extra sandwiches I made the next day!)…
To make grilled cheese to go along with the soup, I first surveyed my fridge and found that I had 3 kinds of cheese – swiss, pepper jack, and a block of parmesan – and I had some veggies that would be great grilled cheese buddies – mushrooms, half a bell pepper, fresh tomatoes, green onions, and a small handful of fresh basil. I threw the mushrooms and the pepper in with the onions that I was already roasting for the soup (I roasted them with some olive oil and freshly ground salt and pepper for about 20 minutes… then I got impatient, because they totally could have gone for longer if you’d prefer more roastiness), and the result was magical.
I’m not a huge sandwich person (well, a more accurate statement would be that I don’t often choose to make sandwiches in my OWN kitchen… I enjoy them elsewhere plenty), so I didn’t have prior experience making a grilled sandwich with more than just cheese. That being said, I learned that you really need cheese both under and on top of your vegetables to act as “glue” so you can achieve a more successful flip… But I managed, with more than a little herding of escapee veggies out of the pan and back into the sandwich. I guess shifting is a normal occurrence if you don’t have a fancy panini maker. :)
Beautiful golden grilled cheeses… I used Low-Carb Whole Wheat bread from a local Maine bakery – When Pigs Fly – perfect bread for the occasion!
Writing this post has made me want both this soup and these sandwiches again… I have a feeling they’ll have some re-runs! Enjoy!