My first Californian winter has been a lot like my first South Australian winter: a bit rainy, leaves changing colors and falling, and slightly chilly weather. And by slightly, I mean 47 F at the lowest Which is awesome. But I’m such a weather wimp, that is actually a bit nippy for me.
But as the rest of the country goes through Snowmaggedon and subzero weather (I’m looking at you, Chicago), I thought you might appreciate a nice soup and sandwich recipe to warm you up. So this week, I’m making creamy creamless tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich made from homemade brioche.
Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches are a popular meal combination in the U.S., something that practically every little kid ate growing up, whether their mothers cooked from scratch or used canned soup. The sandwich always–ALWAYS was made from sliced white bread and a slice of processed American cheese.
Although some form of melted cheese and toasted bread has existed in many different cultures for ages, the first time the modern version of the grilled cheese was served in the U.S. was in the 1920s. That was when cheap American processed cheese and affordable sliced bread appeared in grocery stores. By the 1950s, school cafeterias and institutional kitchens adopted the sandwich, and started serving it with tomato soup, because at that time it was considered to contain a good portion of vitamin C. Thus the popular American meal of tomato soup and grilled was born! (Info from the Food Timeline)
This is definitely a more adult version of tomato soup and grilled cheese. One Sunday while watching America’s Test Kitchen, I saw this recipe for a creamy creamless tomato soup. Because of my nasty bacon addiction, I’m always down for eating healthier for those non-bacon meal to sort of balance out the old nutrition.
This particular recipe called for pureeing canned tomatoes with olive oil and fresh bread to create the creamy texture, and I was pretty impressed. Of course, as always, I tweaked the recipe a bit to my needs, meaning I used canned crushed tomatoes instead of canned whole tomatoes that I pureed because I had it on hand, and I upped the garlic because it rocks. Homemade chicken stock was my liquid of choice, because even if Cook’s Illsutrated suggests it, even if Christopher Kimball himself threatens to cut me if I don’t use it, I’m NOT using canned stock. 1. Because it sucks, and 2. I honestly think I could take Kimball.
Enjoy, and look for my brioche recipe on Wednesday for the grilled cheese sandwich!
My Version of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine’s Creamy Creamless Tomato Soup
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Hot red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 bay leaf
1 28 oz can high quality crushed tomatoes
1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 slices of good sandwich bread (I used brioche) crusts removed and torn into chunks
1 cup homemade chicken broth or vegetable broth
Chopped chives for garnish
2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan for garnish
Using a dutch oven or deep pot, sauté the onions, garlic and hot pepper flakes until onions are soft and translucent. Add the crushed tomatoes, sugar, and bread. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer while stirring until the bread starts to break down. Take out bay leaf.
Process half of the soup in the blender with ? tablespoon olive oil until smooth. Place pureed soup in a bowl, then repeat with remaining soup and olive oil. Return the soup back to the pot and add in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes to meld the flavors. Season with salt and pepper, then serve in a bowl with chopped chives and a nice, crusty grilled cheese sandwich.