Friday, February 12, 2010

You like tomato and I like tomahto...

What to do with too many tomatoes? My mind immediately went to cheese. "Excuse me?" you say. I am speaking of grilled cheese sandwiches. The ooey-gooey delights that we've loved since we were kids. And grilled cheeses go perfectly with tomato soup. See how my mind works? So I set off on a tomato soup making adventure.

I decided to roast tomatoes in the oven first to give it more depth in flavor. I also threw onions and garlic onto the baking sheet with the tomatoes. If the soup ended up tasting as good as the roasting vegetables smelled, then it was going to be phenomenal.

The soup did turn out even better than I had anticipated. So fresh and much better than the canned variety.

The grilled cheese sandwiches were made with Havarti and Gruyere. I chose these cheeses for their milder tastes and excellent melting ability. Oh, and I named the sandwich in honor of my childhood friend, Tammy, whom I haven't seen in decades. She is a cheese enthusiast and jokingly said that I should do a recipe involving cheese and name it after her. Those of you that read my post Crustacean Sensation may recall Tammy's mom as the first person to introduce me to mac and cheese. Well, I found out that Tammy is a Foodism For the Busy Mom reader and this was AFTER I wrote about her in my blog. We have since reconnected through Facebook. Pretty cool huh? So there you go Tam, your very own "Tam-wich"!
Roasted Tomato Soup

6 large Roma tomatoes; halved, stem area trimmed off
1 medium onion; outer skin and layer removed, cut into medium sized chunks
1 head of garlic, wrapped in foil
Olive oil
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 large fresh basil leaves, torn into smaller pieces
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place your tomatoes, onions and garlic on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Lightly drizzle olive oil over everything (except the garlic) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. Onions should just start to brown.

Start heating up the chicken broth in a medium pot. Add your roasted veggies.
Slice the top off of the garlic head and squeeze the bottom of the bulb, the softened cloves should just come out. You only want to put the cloves into the pot, discard the rest of the skin.
Let it all come to a boil and turn down the heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes.

Add the basil and sugar to the pot. Use a hand blender to puree the soup until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and build from there if necessary).
If the tip of the blender is not submerged fully in liquid, tilt the pot to the side until it is. If you blend it when the liquid is too shallow, you will have splatter everywhere. Also don't hand blend in a non-stick pot. You may ruin it's surface. Just transfer it to a metal bowl first.

If you don't have a hand blender, let the soup cool for a bit and then puree it in a food processor or blender in batches.

You can make this in advance and just reheat when you are ready to serve.
Grilled Cheese Tam-wich

Good bread, sliced
Havarti cheese, sliced thin
Gruyere cheese, sliced thin
Salted butter

Heat up a pan on medium to medium-low heat.

Place one layer of Havarti and one layer of Gruyere onto a piece of the bread. Place another piece of bread on top and butter the outside of that piece. (I'm sure you all know how to make grilled cheese sandwiches, just covering my bases.)

When your pan is heated up, add a pat of butter and let it melt. Place your sandwich/es in the pan and cook slowly so the cheese has time to melt. Keep peeking at the bottom for a nice golden brown color. When you've achieved it, flip it over carefully. Cook the other side until golden brown as well. Serve with a bowl of the hot tomato soup!

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