Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tomato Soup 101

While we were vacationing last fall in the mountains, we stopped at what might have been the world's worst restaurant. We were lured in by the signs claiming this place was 'famous', along with the strong hunger created by a morning filled with antiquing, driving the Blue Ridge Parkway with the windows down, and listening to blue grass music at the apple orchard.
So we pull off around Linville, and followed the signs to the 'famous' restaurant. Turns out this fine establishment is famous not due to its cuisine but because it was built where 3 or 5 (?) counties meet.

Scott and I ordered something or other that we are still trying to forget about. Scott was hopeful enough to send food back that was cold... turns out it wasn't much better hot. :) So in one last attempt at something somewhat satisfying, he tried Sophie's grilled cheese. It's really hard to mess up grilled cheese, and as he ate it, he exclaimed that grilled cheese is one of his favorite things to eat.

Well, that was enough for me. I love to see my husband and kids smile when they sit down at the dinner table. Dinner is a main event at our house, so when I heard Scott exclaim his love of grilled cheese, I was thrilled. This is doable almost any night of the week, no matter if there are soccer practices or meetings competing for our dinner time.

So of course my next thought was what could go with the beloved grilled cheese, and tomato soup was the obvious choice. I remembered seeing a yummy sounding recipe online, and here was the perfect opportunity to put it to use. And so began Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup at our table.

Due to my kid's aversion to Kraft singles, or any American cheese (how did this happen?? I loved nothing more when I was a kid than to open the fridge and grab a cellophane-wrapped square of yellow goodness!), we use grated cheddar and real butter to prepare our grilled cheese sandwiches. The kids are onto something, because you have never had a better, more simple grilled sandwich than two pieces of whole wheat bread, spread with butter, sprinkled with a generous mound of cheddar, and grilled on the griddle. The bread gets golden and toasty, and the sweetness from the whole wheat and butter combine perfectly. And if a little cheese sneaks out and sizzles on the griddle, all the better.

But about the soup. It is hard to believe so few ingredients can come together to be so satisfying. A few notes: I use fire roasted canned tomatoes and half and half instead of heavy cream. Last time I made it, I used the tube of chopped basil (found right beside the fresh at the grocery store), and it turned out great. If you use the food processor, your soup will be chunkier; using the blender turns out creamier soup.

Le Madeline's Tomato Basil Soup

4 cups fresh tomatoes, cored, peeled, and chopped (8-10) or 4 cups canned whole tomatoes, crushed
12 -14 basil leaves, washed fresh
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 lb sweet unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Simmer tomatoes in saucepan for 30 minutes. Puree, with the basil leaves, in small batches, in blender or food processor. Return to saucepan and add cream, butter, salt and pepper while stirring over low heat.

1 comment:

Screaming Meme said...

Yum! I love this! Add it is GF...:) Hi, Im Meme from Screaming Meme. I wanted to stop in and let you know about my giveaway series. This week is a week is a surprise...:) I hope you can stop in and sign up for oneof them...I look forward to your visit.

Xo, Meme