Our tree is UP, snow is on the ground, my fire is LIT, wool socks are on my feeeeeet, and I’m eating tomato soup and grilled cheese. I do believe I am in a literal winter wonder land.
I made a HUGE batch of this creamy tomato soup yesterday when we had a OU vs OSU bedlam football watch party at our house. My Sooners about gave me a coronary, but managed to pull off a win in the last seconds. It was grueling. I was quite a fan of this soup and the grilled cheese bar that we did. Wish I had pics, but too busy screaming at the TV.
We had several types of cheese, lots o’ butter, and a few bread choices placed on the table for people to build their own grilled cheese dream. I decided to grill all of the sandwiches in the OVEN. It was brilliant (thanks Pinterest). That way we all had hot to trot grilled cheese sandwiches at the same time.
Here are the steps for a grilled cheese and tomato soup party:
1. Make your soup (recipe below). It can just simmer on the stove until you are ready to go. The soup takes a total of about 1 1/2 hours for prep, cook, and simmer. The recipe makes enough for 8 to 10 but can be cut in half for smaller crows. Of course the left overs are Ammmmmmmazing. So why would you cut in in half? exactly.
2. Next…let’s get our cheese on. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place two cookie sheets in the oven. You will use one to place the sandwiches on and the second as a type of panini press.
3. Set out all of your grilled cheese sammy fixins: cheeses, butter, bread (I used gluten free for me), meat (bacon, ham, etc), veggies (caramelized onions, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, spinach) or go pure. Butter your bread, stack yo cheeeeeeze, and add what you want…or just cheesy peeazy cheese.
4. Place a piece of parchment paper on the table and write everyone’s name on it so that each person has a location to place their masterpiece cheesewich. Then pull out one of the cookie sheets from the oven, and place the parchment paper onto the cookie sheet. Be careful, it’s HOT. (I tell your this because I forgot. NO worries, I have no feeling in my hand anymore.) Place all of the sandwiches on their names on the parchment paper. Remove the second HOT cookie sheet and place it on top of the buttered sandwiches. Place these cookie sheets back into the hot oven.
5. Cook for about 10 minutes. Then pull out the sheet of sandwiches and check them. You may need to flip them and place them back into the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the bread is nice and toasty on both sides. Pull out the sandwiches and serve the hot and melty cheesywiches with your hot yummy tomato soup.
6. Enjoy that cozy feeling inside. You are welcome.
Classic Creamy Tomato Soup
(Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit)
Serves 8 to 10
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted grass-fred butter (or olive oil)
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, smashed and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 6-oz can of tomato paste
- 3 28-oz cans of whole tomatoes (best quality)
- 8 cups of water or broth
- 1/4-cup to 1/2-cup half and half (or full fat coconut milk for dairy free)
- salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
In a large heavy dutch oven or pot placed over medium heat, melt the butter until bubbling. Add the onions and cook until completely soft and translucent (about 10 minutes).
Add the thyme, basil, paprika, and garlic and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.
Increase the heat to medium-high and add the tomato paste. Stirring frequently, cook the tomato paste and onion mixture for 5 to 6 minutes or until the paste begins to caramelize in spots, but not burn.
Add all of the tomatoes with their juices and 8 cups of water or broth to the pot. Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium and maintain a gentle simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the soup has reduced slightly.
Remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool slightly. The soup can be pureed in a blender, a food processor, or an immersion blender. If using a blender or food processor, be careful and work in batches. Also be sure to vent the hot mixture. After the soup has been pureed, return it to the pot and keep the soup warm over low heat.
Stir in desired amount of half and half. Simmer an additional 10 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle additional thyme on top for serving or some extra half and half.