Saturday, June 19, 2010
Friday Dinner - Cream of Tomato Soup and Ham and Cheese Panini
I found this amazing tomato soup recipe on Smitten Kitchen (my favorite). I've always loved tomato soups, but I can't stand the ones that come from a can or a box. I found one soup, it may have been a tomato bisque, at South Congress Cafe in Austin (which is where I also fell in love with goat cheese via their warm goat cheese salad - more on that later). It appears they don't have it on the menu right now but let me tell ya - that soup was the greatest! They garnished it with fresh basil and goat cheese. It was so creamy - and had none of that sugary aftertaste most of the canned and boxed soups have. I've been trying to replicate it for sometime to no avail until I came across this recipe on Smitten Kitchen. It's so very close to the one I fell in love with, I've made it no less than 5 times in the last two months.
Soup and sandwiches is kind of a cliche meal, I suppose, but we have several variations so we switch it up from time to time. In the near future, I'll share our tortellini en brodo (fancy name for tortellinis cooked in chicken broth) and rotisserie chicken sandwich recipe. Another great combo.
A croque monsieur is a delightful sandwich to serve with this meal, but it involves a lot of time so we pared it down to the essentials - ham and cheese, and dijon mustard. The soup and sandwich go so well together, I usually eat most of soup by sopping it up with the sandwich. I recommend it.
Cream of Tomato Soup (from Smitten Kitchen):
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained, 3 cups juice reserved
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Pinch ground allspice
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups chicken stock, homemade or canned low-sodium
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons brandy or dry sherry
Salt and cayenne pepper
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450°F. Lined rimmed baking sheet with foil. With fingers, carefully open whole tomatoes over strainer set in bowl and push out seeds, allowing juices to fall through strainer into bowl. Spread seeded tomatoes in single layer on foil. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to color, about 30 minutes. Let tomatoes cool slightly, then peel them off foil; transfer to small bowl and set aside.
Heat butter over medium heat in large saucepan until foaming. Add shallots, tomato paste and allspice. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Gradually add chicken stock, whisking constantly to combine; stir in reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Cover, increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes.
Pour mixture through strainer and into medium bowl; rinse out saucepan. Transfer tomatoes and solids in strainer to blender; add 1 cup strained liquid and puree until smooth. Place pureed mixture and remaining strained liquid in saucepan. Add cream and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in brandy and season with salt and cayenne. Serve immediately. (Soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Warm over low heat until hot; do not boil.)
Ham and Cheese Panini:
Ciabatta bread -or- if you can find it, Pugliese bread, sliced
Deli ham (we used Boar's Head Virginia Ham)
Choice of cheese, sliced (we used gruyere for 2 sandwiches and american for 2 sandwiches)
Heat both sides of the bread on a panini grill or saute pan. Spread dijon and mayonnaise on one side and add ham and cheese. Place back on panini grill or pan, close the lid and let the cheese melt about 3 minutes. If you are not using a panini grill, flip the sandwich once while melting the cheese (just like making a grilled cheese). Slice in half and enjoy with cream of tomato soup.