Is there anything better than a bowl of Tomato Soup? Why yes! When you serve it with a great Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
I can never make soup without thinking of my Mother. She was simply incredulous that anyone would go to the trouble when, in her own words, “You can just open a can”. And I have to admit that of all the soups out of a can, Mr. Campbell, as she inevitably referred to the maker of the only tomato soup we ever ate, did a really great job with his Cream of Tomato soup. More recently, the joys of Trader Joe’s Organic Creamy Tomato Soup mean it’s a staple in our refrigerator. It’s rich and full of tomato flavor. You don’t add a thing to it. Just pour, heat and eat. It even eliminates the can. And It’s gluten-free. Yet, somehow, I was drawn to a 2002 recipe from Food & Wine magazine from a woman named Diane Rossen Worthington.
Fire-Roasted Tomatoes kick Tomato Soup up a notch.
Ms. Rossen Worthington is quite the soup aficionado. She’s appeared in Food and Wine with seven soup recipes ranging from Pasta e Fagioli (or Pasta Fazool if you’re Italian American) to Broccoli Leek Soup with Lemon Chive Cream to this wonderful creamy roasted tomato soup. It’s the best use of those canned TJ’s Fire Roasted Canned Tomatoes I’ve found. It calls for store-bought chicken broth too. In order to give it some credibility as ‘homemade’, it does call for aromatic vegetables that require some chopping. Just enough chopping to make a home cook feel they’ve accomplished something far better than canned. And after all, it’s a bisque!
What makes a Soup a Bisque?
What’s the difference between Soup and Bisque? Soup is any food in liquid form. Although some soups are served at room temperature or are cold (think Vichysoisse), most soups that are hot are prepared by making a broth which can contain meat, vegetables, juice, water or stock. Once the flavor has been extracted, some soups are clear and some are thick with their ingredients. A bisque is a particular type of cream soup. The word ‘bisque’ itself comes from the French word bis cuites meaning twice cooked. In this case, it’s the aromatics –the holy trinity of carrots, onions and celery–that are cooked first. In a bisque, the cream is cooked slowly adding to the thickness of the soup. In a cream soup, the thickness comes not from the cream but from other additions like flour, pasta, and rice.
The secret to a Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich is not to rush it along.
The inevitable partner to any bowl of Cream of Tomato soup is the Grilled Cheese Sandwich. It’s a go-together like pie and ice cream. They both taste better when they’re served together. First there’s the matter of the bread. I like the Tuscan sliced loaf from Trader Joe’s. The problem with bread in our household is that we generally can’t use a whole loaf before it’s good by date. I have finally solved that by keeping the loaf in the freezer. From there it’s a matter of prying two slices from loaf, defrosting them in the microwave and then putting to work in your sandwich. The recipe follows but here are the basics. The “inside” slice of the bread should be lightly slathered with mayonnaise. I am particularly fond of the Japanese Mayo called “Kewpie” but your Hellmann’s will do just fine. Then choose a good melting cheese—Cheddar, Muenster, Provolone or Swiss—and tear it into pieces to completely cover what will be the two insides of the sandwich. A great piece of Jambon de Bayonne or Prosciutto or even Deli Ham can be slipped into the middle. Then, at low temperature melt about 2 tbsp. of butter in a non-stick skillet. Put the sandwich in the pan. It doesn’t require much heat from the stove at all. Using a spatula, press down on the bread. You can tell when the cheese is melted just by looking and the toast should be nicely browned. Serve it with a bowl of Fire Roasted or any other Tomato soup you have on hand.
Here are some other soup recipes on Chewing the Fat and after them, the recipes for both Soup and Sandwich.
Fire Roasted Tomato Bisque
A lively version of Tomato Soup with body and a hint of spice from its Fire Roasted Tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
- Two 14 1/2-ounce cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
- 1/2 cup garlic or cheese croutons, for garnish (optional)
- Step 1 In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery and garlic, cover and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir over low heat for 1 minute, or until the flour is fully incorporated. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, and sugar and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook the soup over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender 15 minutes.
- Step 2 Either use an Immersion blender to purée the soup in the saucepan until smooth. Or transfer half of the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Repeat with the rest of the soup. If you have used the blender, return the puree to the saucepan. Now add the heavy cream and cook until the soup is just heated through. Season the soup with salt and white pepper and swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with parsley and croutons and serve.
The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Easy does it with the heat and you'll turn out the perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- 2 slices of Crusty Rustic Bread
- 2 tbsp. Mayonnaise *I like Japanese Kewpie Mayo
- 3 or 4 Slices of Cheddar, Muenster, Provolone, Swiss or any melting cheese of your choice
- 1 or 2 slices of Jambon de Bayonne, Prosciutto or Deli Ham
- 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- Step 1 If necessary, defrost bread in the Microwave approx 60 seconds.
- Step 2 Spread one side of each slice of bread with one tablespoon of mayonnaise.
- Step 3 Tear Cheese to completely cover the mayonnaise completely.
- Step 4 Put a slice or two of prosciutto in the middle of each sandwich.
- Step 5 In a large non-stick skillet, heat the unsalted butter over low heat. Once it has foamed, place the sandwich into the skillet. Press down with a spatula and flip sandwich over to check its color once you see the cheese is melting. Once the sandwich has achieved a golden brown color, take the sandwich from the skillet. Cut it in half and serve with a bowl of Tomato Soup