Monday, November 14, 2011

the guess-who's-not-coming-home-for-dinner dinner

there's just something about the combination of grilled cheese and tomato soup that makes me so happy.

crusty bread. melty cheese. creamy soup. tomato-y goodness.

a.k.a. completely irresistible.

and making everything homemade just puts campbell's canned condensed soup to utter shame.

but there is an underlying reason behind my unconditional and obsessive love for the potential award winning combination of grilled cheese and tomato soup.

you see, my father was raised as a "meat and potatoes" kind of guy.

as in salad does not cut it unless it's just served as an appetizer for the main entree of beef pot roast and mashed potatoes later on.
as in those "where's the beef?" commercials were probably started when someone heard my dad's response when he found out my mom made soup for dinner.
as in while my mom, sister and i could settle for pretzels at the mall as our "dinner," the burger and fries we picked up from culver's on the way home is serving as a great distraction from hauling our shopping bags in from the car.

all while growing up (and even now and then when i'm home), whenever my mom would tell us "dad called and said he won't be home for dinner," we knew exactly what that meant.

grilled cheese and tomato soup.

it was a rare occurrance, but when it did happen, it seemed like a special occasion (no offense, dad).

so today when i apparently felt like avoiding protein and doing something somewhat nostalgic, i decided to make my own tomato soup. it wasn't terribly cold out or anything, but i think it was the fact that i picked up my commencement tickets that made me want to celebrate. 

see what i mean about this perfectly paired combination making for special occasions?   

 beautiful roma tomatoes sat in my refrigerator drawer longing for something savory. i quartered them, along with a sweet onion and tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper.

and obviously just a little bit of minced garlic, as you can see. ok, so it was more like a handful.

45 minutes later, your house/apartment/cubby (what i like to call my kitchen) will smell so gloriousy garlic-y and roast vegetably you'll want to just snack on them like that. in fact, i may have snuck a slice of onion... and eaten all the tomato skins i peeled off.

oh, sue me.

add the veggies into a large stock pot and cover with 4 cups of chicken stock and a little honey to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.

i also threw in a can of crushed tomatoes because i didn't have quite enough fresh ones on hand.

after blending in the food processor in batches, the soup looked (and smelled) pretty stinking fantastic.

unfortunately, my kitchen did not.

the transfer from the pot to the food processor was not a clean one, and neither was the one from the food processor to a bowl.

yep, that's tomato soup on my walls.
and my stove.
and my floor.
and my countertops.
and my shirt.
and probably my hair.

looked like mr. clean himself would've had a job on his hands, but a little elbow grease, and the cubby just sparkles.


after the blending and the mess was all over, i added some half and half to make the soup a little creamier.

and at the same time i was making this soup, i was also making some banana bread with the overly ripe bananas i had laying around. (another post, another day.) the only reason i mention this is because that recipe used plain greek yogurt and i had some leftovers so i whisked that into my soup as well.

mmmm. creamy, creamy, creamy.

and don't think i forgot about my tomato soup's other half! quickly grilled up some cheese, cut them into little cubes and called them grilled cheese croutons.

not trying to brag, but seriously. how flippin' cute are those??

and the soup was so so good. it was creamy, but i could definitely taste all that delicious garlic. and the flavor that comes out of the onions and tomatoes from roasting just comes right through. i will definitely be making this next time i'm home and my dad can't make it home for dinner. :)

make up your own special occasion (like the fact that it hasn't snowed yet) and make this soup.
i promise you will not be disappointed!

Creamy Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

1 lb. Roma tomatoes, quartered
1 medium sweet onion, cut in half, then cut into thirds (depending on the size)
2 tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
1 quart chicken stock or base (could definitely be made vegetarian by using vegetable base)
1½ tbsp. honey
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 cup half and half
¼ cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt (optional)
¼ tsp. ground thyme
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place tomatoes, onions and garlic on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and toss to coat all the tomatoes with the garlic and olive oil. Roast in the oven (cut sides up) for 45 minutes.
Let vegetables sit for a few minutes before removing the skins of the tomatoes. Add the veggies and their liquid into a large stock pot and cover with the chicken stock. Add honey, crushed tomatoes and bay leaves and let simmer for 15 minutes to let the bay leaves do their job.
Remove the bay leaves and ladle the mixture into a blender or food processor (or use an immersion blender!) and process until all the tomato seeds and bits of garlic have been broken down. Transfer back to the pot and warm through again. Add the half and half, yogurt, and thyme. Let simmer for another 10 minutes or while you are making the grilled cheese.
Directions for grilled cheese: if you actually need directions for grilled cheese, I am truly sorry. But here’s the easy version: Take two slices of bread, butter one side of each slice. Butter side goes down in a pan or on a griddle. Add one or two slices of American cheese (or cheddar or anything else you can imagine). Other slice of bread goes on top, butter side up. When slice #1 is brown and awesome, flip and make the other side awesome. Note: make sure cheese is melted.
To serve, just cube up the grilled cheese, or just slice in half for convenient dipping, and ladle the soup into bowls. Serves 5-6.

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