At first glance, this would seem like a rather pedestrian meal. Perhaps memories of white bread, American cheese and Campbell's Tomato Soup emerge. I have gone to that well many times in the past. But tonight's version gives the good ole mainstay a great rejuvenation. Still simple to make, create a more sophisticated meal just by swapping out a few key ingredients.
The tomato soup served two purposes. Every time I ask, what should we have for dinner, Maggie asks if I have any of that good tomato sauce for pasta.
Tomato Basil Soup
2 1/2 lbs Roma Tomatoes
3/4 cup chopped sweet Vidalia onion
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
(Optional - thinly sliced button mushrooms, sauteed in olive oil)
On the bottom of each tomato, make a small "x" cut with your knife. Blanche the tomatoes in boiling water for about a minute. Drain and place the tomatoes in an ice water bath to cool. This will make the tomatoes easy to peel. Peel, seed, and chop the tomatoes.
In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and saute the onions and garlic on low heat until they are quite softened. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. Puree in a blender.
At this point, I poured out a Mason jar full, almost 2 cups, to save to use as pasta sauce for Maggie.
For the rest, I returned it to the pan and added 1 cup of concentrated chicken stock. For the chicken stock, I used Knorr Roasted Chicken Base. This is my favorite chicken stock, unless you are making from scratch. If you live in Seattle, you can get this is at Big John's Pacific Food Imports. Their beef stock is great as well. For the concentrated chicken stock, I just used a little more of the base than for a normal cup of stock.
Let the soup simmer for 10 minutes or so. Add some sauteed mushrooms if you like, I do! Finish with a splash of cream, or leave out. You know which way we went. Then add a chiffonade of basil leaves. Stir to combine. Adjust seasoning, salt/pepper, as you like.
Grilled Cheese Sandwhich
Grand Central Bakery Sliced Como Bread
Sliced Cave Aged Gruyere and Beechers Flagship Cheese
Assemble your sandwiches and put a little soft butter on the outside of each piece of bread. Grill on your griddle or use a large pan over medium low to medium heat until cheese is melted and bread is crispy golden brown.
Arugula Pear Salad with Blue Cheese and Candied Pecans
I had gotten some beautiful arugula from a farmers market over the weekend, and had not gotten to use it. Looking for something to offset the richness of the sandwich and soup, this little salad seemed perfect. I tossed the arugula with slices of bosc pear, crumpled blue cheese, and candied pecans in a light dressing of simply champagne vinegar and olive oil. A few turns of the pepper grinder on top and you're set.
I was afraid I would get a turn up of the nose from my kids on the tomato soup as I've yet to get them to even try one. I suppose perhaps the weight of the blog has enticed them to try many a new thing they used to think they did not like. The rave reviews I got... I think the fact it was a lighter version of their beloved tomato sauce didn't hurt. We dipped our sandwiches in our soup... a match made in foody heaven.