I know it’s winter, but I crave tomatoes all year long. So I find ways to cook with them even though it is not seasonally correct. This is a classic comfort food duo. The soup is as pure and flavorful as a tomato soup should be, but you must start with good canned plum tomatoes, such as San Marzano. For the sandwiches, choose your favorite cheese — I’m crazy for chive-packed Cotswalds Cheddar.
Of course, you decide whether to dip or not to dip!
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 medium stalk celery, chopped
2 sprigs of fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
1 sprig of fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 (28-ounce) can Italian whole plum tomatoes with juice
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup cream (completely optional—I usually leave it out)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, cut into 8 slices
8 slices of good crusty bread
1. Prepare the soup: In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot. Cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the basil, oregano, and tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the broth, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for another 15 minutes. For a richer soup, add a cup of cream in the last five minutes of cooking. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
2. In a blender, purée the soup carefully in batches. Pass it through a sieve back into the pot. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and sugar; keep warm over low heat while you prepare the sandwiches. (Alternatively, the soup can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
3. Prepare the sandwiches: Place 2 slices of cheese in between 2 slices of bread for each sandwich. Spread butter on the outer sides of the 4 sandwiches. In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, brown the sandwiches lightly on both sides until the bread is crispy and the cheese is soft and melted, using a small pan placed on top of the sandwiches as a weight (alternatively, use a sandwich press). Cut the sandwiches diagonally into small triangles.
4. Pour the soup into bowls and serve the sandwiches on the side.
Try a mouth-watering Shutters’ Vegetarian Burger.