Monday, September 26, 2011

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwich and Creamy Tomato Soup

Our tomatoes have continued to ripen beautifully with the warm days we've had here.  And today, the rains have come.  Chris asked for grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches and Stella suggested fresh tomato soup to go with.  One of Chris' favorite, pubescent, post-party memories is making a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich in his parents' kitchen using fresh tomatoes from their garden.  He would take his sandwich and sit out on the beach and eat it while looking out into the dark waters of Lake Huron.  Yes, even then, he was enjoying his Emerton moments.  
For the sandwich, I used a loaf of Wild Wheat Bakery Pain au Levain, sliced thickly.  The cheese was Beechers Flagship and the tomatoes from our garden.  And then after a little conversation with our neighbor, who suggested adding bacon, there was no going back.  Bacon it was.  I grilled our sandwiches on our griddle with a little butter and covered them with lids from various pots to help the cheese melt. 
For the soup:
3 1/4 Pounds fresh tomatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 of a small sweet onion, finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, finely minced
1 1/2 Cups chicken stock
1/2 Cup sliced crimini mushrooms
1/4 Cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 Cup chopped or torn fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste


Make a small cut on the bottom of each tomato and blanche them in boiling water for a minute or so.  This will make the skin easy to peel off.  Remove skin and seeds from tomatoes and roughly chop.  Since I am going to puree the soup, I was not worried about getting every seed out.  In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and saute onions until softened, then add garlic and toss until fragrant.  Add the tomatoes and let simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then uncovered for another 5 minutes.  Puree the tomatoes with the chicken stock in a blender until smooth.  To make it easier, use a cool/cold stock so that it cools the tomatoes down.  There will be less steam, and less tendency for the blender to overflow.  I made a large pot of chicken stock yesterday to kick off my fall.  I froze the stock in several jars and left enough for tonight.  Return the puree to the pan and simmer for another 5 minutes.  
Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms in a little olive oil until softened.  Add to the soup.  You can make the soup to this point, ahead of time, and rewarm before proceeding.  Add cream and return to simmer.  Finish with basil and salt and pepper to taste.  Excellent!
As we finished our sandwiches, Chris asked, "what do you think about the bacon?"
"Not needed" I responded, and we all agreed.  Mark the day down.  There IS a first time for everything!

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