The bright red leaves are almost gone on our beautiful silver maple in the front yard, and the temperatures have been teasing their way toward freezing for the last week or so.
I’m prone to developing the winter blues, so to avoid spending the next several months in fetal position in the corner, I’ve tried to focus on the fun things about the season: warm fuzzy socks, flannel sheets and fabulous food.
While I was delightedly browsing soups, stews and crock pot creations, hubs spoke up and said he’d really like some tomato soup and grilled cheese.
Now, he’d probably be happy with Campbell’s out of a can and a couple of pieces of Wonderbread with a slice of American slapped in between, but I had other ideas. Ideas that involved fresh basil, and cream, and roasted tomatoes. Ideas that called for rich smoked cheese and fresh crusty bread.
Go on, look. It’s drool-worthy. The recipes are fresh and easily recreated, the food styling is enticing and the photography is gorgeous.
I decided to try the Creamy Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup and made a couple of small adjustments to fit the contents of my pantry. I paired it with some grilled cheese sandwiches made with Smoked Gruyère and just a touch of mustard, and we all sat around dipping crusty, cheesy goodness into the rich soup and watching the Chiefs endure an ugly beating from the Dolphins.
I like to think the men were crying because the food was so good, and not because it was such a devastatingly sad game.
Creamy Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup
10 Roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tbsp dried thyme
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp sugar
2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup heavy cream
Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and bake at 375 degrees for about an hour.
Sauté onion in butter until the bits begin to brown. Add garlic and thyme, sauté for another couple of minutes.
Add the can of tomatoes, dried and fresh basil and sugar. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
Add broth and roasted tomatoes, cover and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Carefully transfer soup to blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth.
*Pro Tip: Don’t fill the blender to the top then blend on high unless you like tomato-spattered walls.
Pour the soup back into the pot and slowly stir in the cream. Continue stirring over low heat for five minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve with Grilled Gruyère Sandwiches.
Grilled Gruyère Sandwiches
1 loaf good, thick-cut white bread
8 oz Smoked Gruyère
½ cup yellow mustard
1 stick butter
Grate the cheese. Try not to eat it all before it ends up in the sandwiches.
Butter one side of the bread. Spread a small amount of mustard over the other side and place on a griddle set to low heat, butter side down. Sprinkle cheese over the mustard, top with another slice of bread, buttered on top. Turn when the bread reaches a dark, golden brown.
Slice in half and serve.