Ah, yes. It’s a very rare occurrence waking up to overcast skies in Arizona. And even more unheard of for the cloud cover to linger all day. Who cares if it’s still 100 degrees outside. I just sat in my comfortably air conditioned office, gazing out the window, pretending winter had arrived early.
It’s really no wonder I’ve been jonesin’ for tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches since 9 a.m.
And of course, mommy got her creamy, tangy, crispy, cheesy fix.
Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
(makes 4 servings)
3 lbs vine ripened tomatoes
1 yellow onion
3 large cloves of garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt & freshly ground pepper
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh basil (finely chopped)
1/2 cup heavy cream
(Just in case you’ve never made one before.)
8 slices of sourdough bread
8 slices of cheddar or good ol’ American cheese
8 tbsp salted butter
To make the soup, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Rinse, halve and deseed the tomatoes, then arrange them in a single layer on the sheet pan, cut side down. Peel and roughly chop the onion, and smash and peel the garlic cloves, then arrange them around the tomatoes. Drizzle evenly with the 1/2 cup of olive oil, then top with a good dusting of salt and freshly ground pepper.
Add the chicken stock and butter and cook over medium high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half. Remove from the heat and add the chopped basil…
Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture to a smooth consistency. If you’re weird about texture, now’s the time to pass the liquid through a fine mesh sieve to remove any remaining tomato skin. I personally like having a little textural contrast, but it’s your call.
Add the heavy cream and stir to combine, then simmer over low heat while you make the grilled cheese croutons (aka, the best idea I’ve had today.)
To make the croutons, melt the butter then brush it evenly on one side of each slice of bread. Arrange two slices of cheese on four of the slices of bread, sandwich with the remaining four slices, and grill them in a hot skillet until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted. (I seriously can’t believe I feel like I need to explain this. 🙂 )
Cut the sandwiches into crouton size pieces and set aside.
To serve, ladle a generous portion of soup into a bowl then throw a big handful of grilled cheese croutons on top.
Be sure to keep a stash of croutons on a side plate so you can add more as you slurp down the soup.
Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.