Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Italian Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Today was a typical June summer day in Seattle - crappy and rainy.
I really miss the hot summers in Sacramento, but Seattle is my home, my love!

Throughout work all I could think about was the warm tomato soup and crispy grilled cheese I was craving for dinner.

I went to the store on my lunch break and picked up some roasted tomatoes, feta, sharp cheddar and fresh bread.


I couldn't wait for dinner!!

Here is what you'll need for 4 servings:

Fire Roasted Italian Tomato Soup
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • (2) 14.5 oz. cans or fire roasted diced tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes)
  • 2 cups V8 juice
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable base (I use Better Than Bullion)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
Italian Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  • 8 slices bread (sourdough or multi grain wheat are my choices)
  • Sundried tomato pesto
  • cheese of your choice (I used mozzarella, feta, sharp cheddar and Parmesan)
  • fresh basil, chopped
Caramelize the diced onion in the olive oil on low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Add in the canned tomatoes, V8, Balsamic vinegar, garlic and vegetable base.

I used Fire Roasted diced tomatoes, but you can use regular diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, stewed tomatoes or whole tomatoes - it's up to you and what you have available.

If using stewed or whole, make sure you break them up into smaller, bite sized pieces.

Cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes stirring frequently.

While the soup cooks, slice up the cheese and chop the basil.

And then try not to eat it all before you make sandwiches out of it!

I'm lucky enough to work in Seattle down the street from the Essential Baking Company and they have amazing fresh organic bread - so I picked up some multi grain and sourdough breads.

You can use whatever good fresh bread is available, or whatever bread you like.

Once the soup has cooked for about a half hour, I removed and pureed half of it.

This is completely optional, depending on how chunky you want your soup.

If you like it thick and chunky, (or if you don't have a blender!) don't puree it.

If you like it smooth, puree it all. I used the magic bullet, as my blender decided it was done working just
after I filled it with the soup! (Note to self - buy a new blender!)

Be careful to puree in small batches, as the heat will cause it to expand, and exploding hot soup is no fun!

Add the soup back in to the pot and stir in the milk and the chopped basil.

I used 2% milk as that is what we had, but you can use whole, skim, 1/2 & 1/2, heavy cream - that is entirely up to you and how many calories you want to add into your soup!

While the soup continues cooking, make your sandwiches.

Lightly butter the outsides of the bread, on the inside I spread one side with sundried tomato pesto, layered mozzarella, feta, chopped basil and cheddar, then topped it with the other slice of bread.

Nate and Jaxon don't like feta, so in its place, I put shredded Parmesan.

I grilled these in my Panini press, because I happen to have received one as a gift a few years back. Thanks Aunt Gwennie!!

If I didn't have a Panini press, I would have just cooked them in a skillet on low heat.

When the sandwiches are done, slice and serve!

Hot, creamy tomato soup and crunchy, gooey, cheesy sandwiches to dunk in the soup.

Just what I needed on this cold summer day.