I have this fear that I’ll run out of recipes to share since this blog is all about the foods I cook at home. And normal people don’t cook a new recipe every time they make something. For those who do, I’m thinking they just haven’t found their favorites yet? Once I make something I love, rest assured it’ll be in the rotation for a very long time.
And I wouldn’t ever put up a recipe that I didn’t stand behind and love 100%. So yeah, I worry a bit that I’ll run out of recipes one day to share with you all. I realize this little fear of mine is pretty irrational, considering I have an enormous and growing list of foods that I can’t wait to post. Plus, I find a ton of inspiration all the time and get wonderfully random cravings for certain foods all the time. So maybe it’s just a case of the food blogger syndrome? We’ll see, but all I know is that I’m loving sharing my recipes and thoughts with you guys and I will always appreciate beautiful ingredients and putting them together in a way that makes me happy. With that combo, I think we’re good.
So let’s move on to the recipe of the day already, huh? Because when I started writing this post I thought I’d mention it sooner, but thoughts happened. Sorry about that, guys.
Anyway, I always ask Barry to give me requests for dishes he loves/craves. It just makes me so super duper happy to successfully recreate one of his favorite foods and it serves as one of my biggest inspirations for recipe development. So this past Saturday we got out of the city for a bit and we were driving around looking at all the gorgeous Fall foliage (*ahem ahem* right before I went on a crazed shopping spree in an uncrowded Cost Plus World Market because that would never exist in the city!) when he randomly asked if I’d make some homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sometime. Yeah!!
I’ve always thought I’d love to make a really good homemade tomato soup, but I never actually got around to it.
I know! Why in the world not? Especially with our angry Chicago winters, you would think this California girl would have some sense knocked into her. Really though, I think the Chicago winters might’ve knocked all my good sense straight out of my brain. Chicago winters and grad school. Give me a break. So I didn’t make a tomato soup! Well now I have people! And I done good, if I don’t say so myself.
My nightmare soup is that canned tomato soup stuff that I imagine is made of a mixture of ketchup and hotdog water. No offense if you like that stuff. No. Actually, yes offense if you like that stuff. Why would you do that to yourself? Whyyyy?
Keep moving, Bita.
Well, it’s hard to find a really good tomato soup so I knew I had to put a lot of love into this one to make it just right. And it definitely payed off!
This soup is a rustic tomato basil soup that let’s you enjoy each ingredient and its textures. It’s not blended because although I know that’s what’s popular with the tomato soup crowds, the truth is I just don’t cook like that at home. I don’t make a soup and throw it into the blender so that I can hide the textures and specific flavors of each ingredient. What’s the point in that? I cook simply. And this soup is simple. Plus, why dirty a blender if you don’t have to, right?
So now, the grilled cheese sandwich… holy moly, cheesy and lovely. My preference is hearty sourdough bread (because honestly, it’s just the best for this kind of thing) and a 1:1 mixture of gruyere cheese and a very sharp white cheddar cheese—because I prefer my cheese to look the way nature intended and not dyed bright orange. Have you seen orange milk before? Yeah, because there’s no Halloween/orange cheddar cheese dairy cow.
Do yourself a favor and dip the grilled cheese straight into the soup or don’t if you’re not down with that, and fall in love with the comfort of a really good soup/sandwich combo all over again.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, diced
- 2½ tbsp tomato paste
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 tbsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper (1 tsp black pepper if you like a little more heat)
- ¼ tsp cayenne (optional, but I love a bit of spice)
- 28 oz. peeled San Marzano tomatoes in juice (1 large can), crush well with your hands (it’s fun!)
- 1 large handful basil leaves, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 6 tbsp salted butter, softened
- 8 slices sourdough bread
- 2 cups gruyere cheese, shredded
- 2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- In a large pot on med-low heat, add oil and butter.
- One it melts, add the onion and sauté for about 20 min (mixing it around to keep from burning) or until browned.
- Add garlic and sauté for another minute or two.
- Add in tomato paste and sauté together for another minute.
- Mix in chicken broth, salt, pepper, and if you like a little more heat like myself, go ahead and add the cayenne too. It won’t make it too spicy, but it will definitely give a bit of a kick to it.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes and put the lid on the pot to bring to a gentle boil. After the soup has reached a gentle boil, turn to low heat. At this point, go ahead and make the grilled cheese sandwiches because the soup is almost done. A couple minutes before serving the dish, stir in the basil and cream to the soup.
- Place griddle/nonstick pan on med-low heat.
- Generously butter one side of each of the sourdough bread slices.
- Once the griddle/pan is hot, place one slice of bread for each sandwich on it (butter side DOWN).
- Add a hefty handful of cheese to each slice and top with the other slice (butter side UP).
- After 2 minutes, or when the bottom slice crisps and turns golden-brown, gently flip the sandwich to brown the opposite side for another 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat, slice, and serve with tomato basil soup---and enjoy!