Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

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I have just finished a stretch of very long, difficult workdays. By the time I left the office on Tuesday, I had already logged nearly 30 hours since Sunday, so when I walked in the door yesterday evening, I was beat. I had planned menus for this week knowing that my schedule was going to be unpredictable, and hoping that I would still have the energy to cook, but it hasn’t quite turned out that way. Monday night I had Mike meet me at Moto; he offered to handle dinner on Tuesday, but since I had no idea what time I was going to be home, I told him not to bother, that we’d figure something out when I got in.

We don’t have great dining or takeout options in our immediate area; there’s a Popeye’s and a Dunkin’ Donuts, a crappy pizza place, a few ethnic options which are okay but who close up shop pretty early. Mike had picked up a gorgeous piece of fresh fish on his way home, but I was too mentally tired to decide how to prepare it and to come up with anything to go with it (that fish is on deck for tonight, though). And while we always have a variety of pastas and good things to sauce them with on hand, I didn’t want anything quite that heavy.

I was about ready to just give up and go to bed hungry when I remembered that big batch of chicken stock Mike made on Sunday. We had that, we had a big can of whole fire-roasted tomatoes, we had good bread and we always have a variety of cheeses in the fridge… the answer was right there: grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. It’s one of the ultimate comfort food combinations, and it was exactly what I needed.

Mike directed me to the sofa with a cocktail and I walked him through preparing the soup: first you saute a couple of garlic cloves in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, add the tomatoes along with their juices and two cups of stock, cover and allow it to simmer away. After five minutes or so, break up the tomatoes with a potato masher, taste and season with salt, pepper and a tablespoon or two of chopped fresh herbs (we used thyme, but basil or parsley are also good), and allow the soup to continue to simmer, uncovered, while you work on the sandwiches.

My favorite grilled cheese is made with a good wholegrain rye, grainy mustard, and 2 or 3 different cheeses (one of which is always a cheddar; also, during tomato season, a slice or two of fresh, ripe tomato is an excellent addition). Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a pan until bubbling, spread mustard on two slices of bread and lay them in mustard-side up. Layer the thinly sliced cheeses on top of each slice of bread (we used a mixture of Bobolink cave-aged cheddar, Cato Corner Brigid’s Abbey, and Harpersfield Ommegang from Brovetto Dairy). Top each sandwich with the second slice of bread, press and allow to cook until golden on the first side, then gently flip and brown on the second side, adding another tablespoon of butter if needed.

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Stir 1/4 cup of heavy cream into the soup off the heat, and ladle it into bowls. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve alongside. Pour a glass of your favorite beverage, put your feet up, and savor.

(Happy National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month!)

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19 thoughts on “Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

  1. My wife is a huge fan of tomato soup. I’ll have to spring this quick and easy [but not Campbell’s] version on her sometime soon. Hope the rest of your week goes better.

    And what is it with ethnic places closing so early, by the way?

  2. Jennifer Hess says:

    Terry, I have no idea! In our neighborhood, aside from the bodegas and the package store, it’s like the sidewalks roll up by 8 p.m. – which is great if you want to enjoy a nice quiet evening, not so great if you don’t get home from work until 9 or 9:30!

    Definitely try this tomato soup. It’s super easy to make and it lends itself well to variation (using regular tomatoes instead of fire-roasted, switching up the herbs, omitting the cream and adding finely grated asiago or parmesan, pureeing it smooth instead of leaving it chunky – you get the idea). Enjoy!

  3. This is one of my favorite meals for those blah evenings…and the weather’s been perfect for it this week. Those sandwiches look absolutely delicious!

  4. Jennifer Hess says:

    Thanks, Amy! The weather reports claim we’ll see temperatures in the 60s this weekend… I’ll believe it when I see it!

  5. Merry says:

    This is hands down one of our favorite recipes of yours. :) We do this all the time and clink our glasses in your honor, Jen. :)

  6. OK. Remember garlic on this soup. We always have garlic in the house … until I went to make this soup. Second round. Got garlic. Great soup and we used non-fat evaporated milk instead of the heavy cream. Sure, the latter is more indulgent but I’ve indulged my girth way too much. This is now a favorite click stop.

  7. Jennifer Hess says:

    Thanks, Jack! The nice thing about this soup recipe is that you can vary it in a number of ways… it’s actually even good without any sort of cream or milk added, but it sounds like you found a good substitute that works for you.

  8. matt says:

    Stumbling through when I noticed your grilled cheese recipe. Sounds good, but have you tried two pan frying? I know that’s not what it’s called (or maybe it isn’t called anything and I just created the term) but at any rate it’s a great way to make grilled cheese. Essentially you heat two sauce pans, then place the fully assembled cheese sandwich between them, cooking it quickly and efficiently.

    Try it sometime. Well, later. Stumble calls and I must answer

    matt

  9. EbyKat says:

    Terry B and Jennifer H: They close early because many times it’s a family run store and they all chip in to keep it running, so they close early to be able to have time with their family away from work.

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