Sandwich week! (tomato soup and grilled cheese)

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Usually I’m pretty careful about planning our weekly dinners with a fair amount of diversity. This week, however, it worked out that we’re having sandwiches three nights. Yay! I love sandwiches!

Sandwich week starts out with a classic, and one of my absolute favorite, meals–tomato soup and grilled cheese. When I was a kid, I loved Campbell’s and Kraft singles. These days, I get just a bit fancier.

The soup is homemade from a Cooks Illustrated recipe. I make the recipe with just a few changes–I leave out the cream at the end because while it certainly doesn’t make the soup worse, it doesn’t make it better either, so I figure I might as well save myself the unhealthiness. I reduce the butter by one tablespoon for the same reason.

The sandwiches are simplicity itself–just slice a roll in half, pile on whatever cheese you like, and roast at 400 degrees until the cheese melts (something like 10 minutes).

I make this meal probably once a month. It’s definitely comfort food for me and Dave. One final touch–we always add just a few cooked macaroni noodles to the soup. I’ve done this since I was a kid, and now tomato soup just seems like it’s missing something when they’re not there.

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(Photo updated 3/28/08 )

Cream of Tomato Soup (from Cooks Illustrated)

Serves 6

2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained, juice reserved
1½ tablespoons brown sugar, preferably dark
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Pinch ground allspice
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1¾ cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons brandy

1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place a strainer in a bowl and remove the seeds and juice of each tomato over the strainer. Place tomatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Rub with the brown sugar. Bake until the tomatoes are dry and just starting to brown, about 30 minutes. Let the tomatoes cool slightly, then peel them off the foil.

2. While the tomatoes roast, heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add the shallots, tomato paste, and allspice. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the flour, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Stirring constantly, gradually add the chicken broth; stir in the reserved tomato juice and the roasted tomatoes. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cover, reduce to heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

3. Strain the mixture into a medium bowl. Transfer the tomatoes and solids in the strainer to a blender; add enough liquid for the blender to work, then puree until desired consistency. Stir the pureed mixture and remaining strained liquid together. Stir in the brandy and serve.

Comments

  1. This sounds great! I’d have to come up with substitutes for the chicken broth and the heavy creme if I make this for Jess. Any suggestions? And what is ‘ground allspice’?

  2. bridget says:

    You can totally leave out the heavy cream–the soup is just as good without it. Or just add some soy milk. The cream isn’t really for body or anything.

    I thought Jess was okay with chicken broth? Or you can just use vegetable broth, although I have to admit that I think chicken broth tastes better.

    The real problem is, what do you do about the cheese sandwiches?! You can’t have tomato soup without them, and my understanding is that soy cheese is pretty bad.

    Allspice is a spice–it’s a little dried berry. It’s called allspice because it sort of tastes/smells like a combination of the classic pumpkin pie spices.

  3. Jess can do certain cheeses. Heavily aged cheeses don’t affect her nearly as much. Also, she can eat faux cheese, like Velveeta. Not as good, but better than the pain she experiences otherwise.

  4. I made this last night. Success! It was really good, though it was more work than I’m usually willing to put into soup. For Jess’s sandwich, I used pecerino and spinach. For myself and our guest, I used some sharp cheddar and fol epi (a new favorite) all on kaiser rolls.

    The only adjustments I had to make was that I used rum instead of brandy (and more of it) and I simmered for a longer time (damn late guests). All enjoyed it, though Jess thought I missed the cheese/bread ratio.

  5. bridget says:

    Glad you enjoyed it! Yeah, it isn’t the shortest meal ever to prepare. I justify that by making enough to feed us for 3 dinners.

    (Always err on the side of more cheese! Oh, unless you’re feeding someone who’s lactose intolerant…)

  6. Thank you for sharing this recipe, we loved it!

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