Through the wonders of an Instagram discovery moment, and the beautiful truth behind the line, “like mother, like daughter,” today’s Weekend Dish comes to you courtesy of Sue’s daughter, Michele Greene, one of the original Backyard Cousins.
During the chilly fall months in Chicago there are times when nothing sounds better than a warm bowl of soup. This time it was creamy tomato soup compliments of a little Bon Appétit browsing. In thinking of what to pair with tomato soup the natural choice was grilled cheese, however, I didn’t want to stick with your ordinary grilled cheese, so I chose a Gruyere and caramelized onion on baguette twist.
Hopefully this soup and grilled cheese keeps you warm on a blustery day. For me, the process of making homemade soup gives a whole new meaning to “soup for the soul.” It’s a process that cannot be rushed and must be savored. So often, our lives are go, go, go and it is nice to slow down and pay mind to the many detailed flavors and the slow simmering of a delicious pot of soup.
Creamy Tomato Soup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
10 sprigs thyme, tied together
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes
1–2 teaspoons sugar, divided
1/4 cup (or more) heavy cream
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Melt butter in a large pot, and then add the thyme, onion, and garlic (I use crushed garlic paste – great flavor and less work). Cook until the onion is translucent and tender.
Increase heat to medium-high. Add tomato paste. Continue cooking, stirring often, until paste begins to caramelize in spots.
Add tomatoes with juices, 1 tsp. sugar, and 8 cups water to pot. Increase your heat to high and bring to an almost boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer until flavors meld (about an hour).
Remove soup from heat and let cool slightly. You will want to discard the thyme sprigs.
Now, you have two options: either work in small batches puréeing the soup in a blender until the entire batch is smooth, or use an immersion blender and work in the original pot. I bought a Cuisinart Smart Stick immersion blender a while back on a whim. I believe it was suggested in one of the recipes I wanted to experiment with and it had always been a kitchen tool that captured my curiosity, so I decided to give it a go. I can now say it is an incredibly handy kitchen tool.
Anyway, once your soup is properly pureed, stir in 1/4 a cup of cream. Simmer the soup a bit longer until all flavors come together, 10–15 minutes or longer. The last step is to season to taste with salt, pepper, and remaining 1 tsp. sugar.
You can add more cream, if desired, but I couldn’t bring myself to do. I always think of my Mom’s hearty and delicious meals that often use half the called-for butter, or creatively substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream. The thought of actually using heavy cream in a dish made me wince a bit, but 1/4 cup was the perfect amount.
While waiting for the soup to come together in the last 10 minutes of simmering, I began the grilled cheese.
Michele’s Chicago Grilled Cheese Round One
Olive oil – enough to coat a sauté pan and one long baguette
One onion, sliced thinly
One long baguette
Gruyere cheese, 1-2 cups shredded
Simply, pour a nice amount of olive oil in a sauté pan and place your sliced onion in it. Cook until the onion becomes caramelized.
While waiting on the onion, cut the baguette in half lengthwise. Put a very thin layer of olive oil on the baguette, and place under your broiler for a moment, just until it gets a nice crisp. Once the baguette is crispy place your caramelized onions on top.
Lastly, top your onions with a liberal amount of Gruyere cheese. Place under the broiler once again; just long enough for the cheese to melt. Enjoy!
Michele’s Chicago Grilled Cheese and Creamy Tomato Soup, Day Two
A few days after my initial soup-making venture, I reheated the soup and added apple and Roclette cheese to the previous grilled cheese recipe. Actually, I can’t take credit for that part at all. I have a co-chef that joins me in my cooking adventures. I love being able to bounce ideas off a fellow cooking enthusiast!
p.s. If you want the perfect dessert for this meal, check out last week’s Chocolate Caramel Dandy recipe and vote for the Backyard Sisters entry in the L.A. Times Holiday Cookie Bake-Off. Hurry! Voting ends November 12.