Do you have a favorite comfort food? Maybe a food that you crave when things feel a bit overwhelming? Or, when you are under the weather, not actually sick, just not feeling quite right? Mine is tomato soup and grilled cheese. I take a warm mug to bed and watch reruns of “The Good Wife”. The next day, my world is much improved.
This is the best cream of tomato soup I have ever tasted, bar none! The grilled cheese croutons are a great additon (but it doesn’t need much). The croutons are crisp on the outside, but become soft and cheesy on the inside as they soak up the soup. It’s the perfect combination of textures and flavors. What can beat tomatoes and cheese? You could also make grilled cheese sandwiches and simply dunk them in the soup. All excellent!
Cream of Tomato Soup
- 2 – 28 oz. cans of whole Roma tomatoes packed in juice
- 1 ½ tablespoon of dark brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons of melted butter
- 4 large shallots, minced (about ½ cup)
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 1/8 teaspoon of ground allspice
- 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 1 ¾ cups of chicken or vegetable stock
- ½ cup of heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons of brandy
- Salt and cayenne pepper as needed
- Adjust your oven rack to the upper-middle position and pre-heat to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Place a strainer over a large bowl. Open the cans of tomatoes and, using your hands, gently squeeze each tomato open over the strainer. You want to remove the seeds without crushing the tomato. Lay each tomato on the foil lined baking sheet.
- Pour the rest of the juice into the strainer and push the juices through. Clean the bottom of the strainer into the bowl. You should have just the seeds left inside the strainer.
- Sprinkle the tomatoes with the brown sugar and bake until the liquid has evaporated. It took about 30 minutes in my oven. You are concentrating the flavor of the tomatoes.
- When finished, remove from the oven and let cool.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the shallots, tomato paste, and allspice. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the shallots are soft. Stir it occasionally; it will take about 10 minutes.
- Add the flour and stir well to mix with the contents of the skillet. To cook the flour and remove the raw taste, stir for 30 seconds to a minute. You don’t want the flour to burn.
- Add the chicken or vegetable stock gradually, whisking or stirring constantly.
- Stir in the tomato juice and roast tomatoes.
- Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes.
- At this point you can either blend it smooth (be careful to vent the top and fill your blender only half full) or use an immersion blender directly in the pot.
- When smooth, add the cream, reheat for a minute, and then add the brandy.
Taste for salt and a bit of spice, I didn’t think it needed any.
Crispy Grilled Cheese Croutons
- 4 slices of sandwich bread, crusts removed
- 1 ¼ cup of grated cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
- Butter one side of each slice of bread.
- Brush the hot skillet with any remaining butter.
- Sprinkle two small piles of cheese directly on to the skillet, about 2 tablespoons. Spread them to the approximate size of your bread. Place a slice of bread (buttered side down) on top of each pile.
- Put about ½ cup of cheese on top of each slice in the pan, cover with the second slice of bread (buttered side up).
- Brown the first side, and then remove the bread to a plate.
- Sprinkle another 2 tablespoons of cheese into two piles in the skillet.
- Carefully slide the bread, other side down, on top of the cheese and brown the second side. The cheese in the middle should have started to melt.
- Remove the bread to the plate and cool slightly.
- When cool, cut into cubes.
- Top the hot soup with the croutons; or eat the crisp grilled sandwiches as they are, dipping them into the soup.
What is your favorite comfort food?