Friday, August 21, 2009

TFF - Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup...a classic!

Well, everyone, summer is, unfortunately, beginning to decline. I know some of you look forward to winter, but I most definitely do not. I will mourn the end of summer fiercely...I guess its a good thing I have plenty of wine to cry my tears into.
Meanwhile, the weather has taken a mild turn to the cooler side, and that immediately puts me in the mood for soup. I've had a recipe marked in Tyler Florence's Stirring the Pot for some time now, and was just waiting for the right moment to bring it out. Tomato Soup is one of my all time favorite comfort foods, especially in the winter or when I'm sick; and I don't know about you, but when I think of tomato soup, my mind automatically adds a grilled cheese sandwich to the menu. Lucky for me, there is also a recipe in the same book for a wonderful grilled cheese sandwich with smoked mozzarella and basil pesto.

These recipes couldn't have come at a better time. I have a mountain of fresh garden tomatoes, a freezer chock full of pesto from last year's basil crop, and I was finally able to find a chunk of smoked mozzarella at Meijer! I couldn't believe how hard it was to find that! (Special thanks to Melyssa for snaring that prize for me!). Admittedly, the flavor of the smoked mozzarella is a little pverwhelming to me on its own, but paired with the pesto, it takes on a nutty flavor and blends in perfectly. I am really glad tha I held out for the smoked mozzarella instead of settling for regular, which I honestly thought would be fine. I am very glad I waited.

Being me, I couldn't help making a few adjustments to the recipe. For one, I either doubled or tripled the amount of basil I added to the soup. In my book, you can NEVER have too much fresh basil. Also, instead of plain white bread for the sandwiches, I broke out some pretty little ciabatta rolls. I love a chewy bread when there is cheese on a sandwich.

While I was cooking supper last night for the hubs, I had the tomatoes, onions and garlic roasting in the oven for the soup. I have to say, I am actually surprised the hubs didn't end up trying the soup when it was finished. He was walking around the kitchen like a foxhound with his nose in the air, telling me how great it smelled. "There's something in there that smells really good!" he kept saying. And I'll tell you what, he was right. My kitchen was just bursting at the seams with the wonderful fragrance of the roasted vegetables, and when I put the fresh chopped basil on top of the stewing tomatoes and plunged the immersion blender into it, the whole atmosphere changed. It smelled like we were in an Italian grandma's kitchen.

The sandwiches were gooey and chock full of flavor, and the soup was rich and creamy. I have a feeling this soup is going to become a staple in my kitchen. Since tonight is Friday and its my night off from cooking each week, I plan to cook up a little pasta and toss it with the soup as a sauce, top it with some freshly shaved Parmesan....Oooo! I can't wait to see how THAT turns out!

Until then, I hope you enjoy the pictures of last night's indulgence. And do't forget to check back later for the roundup at Tyler Florence Fridays - this is my submission for this week!Grilled Cheese (Smoked Mozzarella and Basil Pesto)
4 slices white sandwich bread
4 slices smoked mozzarella
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fresh basil
1 cup fresh Italian parsley
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
To make pesto combine pesto ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined but still has a rough texture.
Assemble sandwich by smearing insides of bread slices with pesto. Arrange a layer of mozzarella and season with a few turns of fresh pepper. Layer the mozzarella slices over the top and then place the bread over to make the sandwich. Set a large sauté pan over medium heat and add butter. Add sandwich and cook 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy. Remove from pan and rub toasted bread with garlic.
Roasted Tomato Soup with Fresh Basil
2 ½ lb fresh tomatoes (mix of fresh heirlooms, cherry, vine and plum tomatoes)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 small yellow onions, sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 qt chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
¾ cup heavy cream, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil, for garnish

Preheat oven to 450˚F.

Wash, core and cut the tomatoes into halves. Spread the tomatoes, garlic cloves and onions onto a baking tray. Also add the vine cherry tomatoes if using for garnish, leave them whole and on the vine. Drizzle with ½ cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.Roast for 20-30 minutes or until caramelized.Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot (set aside the roasted vine tomatoes for later use). Pour in any liquid, ¾ of the chicken stock, bay leaves and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by1/3. Wash and dry basil leaves and add to the pot.Puree the soup using an immersion stick blender until smooth. Return soup to low heat, add cream and adjust consistency with remaining chicken stock if necessary. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish in bowl with three or four roasted vine cherry tomatoes and a splash of heavy cream.


Kim said...

It all looks delicious!! Sounds like the perfect meal to me, especially the grilled cheese. Did the hubby like the vegetarian meal or did you have to make him a separate meat dish : ) ha-ha

Natashya said...

Great classic fare! I love that you used so much of your garden bounty here.

Ty'sMommy said...

lol KIM! You laugh, but when I said I was roasting the tomatoes while I was cooking supper...I really meant it! I made sweet & sour pork for him because I knew he wouldn't eat what I was making for me!

And I brought the leftovers in to work today and just got back from feeding my foodie friends. The soup and sammies both got very high marks!

Sylwia said...

I love grilled cheese and tomato soup! I can't wait for cooler weather so I can make it more often. Your meal looks great!!!

ARLENE said...

Lucky, lucky you to have a bumper crop of tomatoes. I haven't bought a tomato in weeks; they all look dreadful. I can hardly wait for fall so I can get back to soups. It's been so hot the past few weeks. We had a torrential downpour a while ago and just shut off the AC for the first time since Monday. I love mozzarella and agree that waiting for the smoked version was a good thing. And ciabatta beats white bread all to hell. YUMMY entru.

Debinhawaii said...

Looks like the perfect comfort food meal and so fresh and great with all your lovely produce.

Joanne said...

Nothing beats soup and a salad for a weeknight meal. I loved your pictures of these, they make everything look so delicious! I am going to miss summer as well. My goal for the next few weeks is to buy basil weekly and make a new pesto to freeze so that I can have a freezer full to get me through the winter!

Anonymous said...

Fresh tomatoes make all the difference. Lucky you.

Jenny said...

Grilled cheese is almost always matched with tomato soup in my house as well. Think I'll try this one soon, it looks so much better than our standard.