Sunday, September 14, 2008

Smoky tomato soup & grilled cheese

Here is a recipe for you! I made this the other night for the first time. I'm not a huge tomato soup fan, but I liked the flavor of this one, so if you really like tomato soup, you will probably love it. I think it will be a good meal for when we have several chillins running around one day.

This is a Rachael Ray recipe, but I have made some modifications.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus additional
4 slices smoked bacon, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 quart chicken stock, divided
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram, finely chopped, or 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
1 28-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
Butter for sandwiches
16 slices of party-size (small squares) rye bread (I used sourdough)
16 small, square slices sharp cheddar cheese, cut into slices 1/4-inch thick (Cracker Barrel brand is the perfect size)

Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the chopped bacon and cook until crisp, stirring every now and then, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the crispy bacon from the pot and reserve for the Mini Grilled Cheese Sammies.

To the soup pot, add the garlic, onion, celery, carrots and some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring every now and then for 4-5 minutes, until they start to get tender.

Remove the tender veggies from the pot to a food processor or blender, throw in a big splash of the chicken stock and the marjoram, and puree until smooth.

Return the veggies to the pot, place back over medium-high heat and add the remaining chicken stock, fire-roasted tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes and heavy cream, if you are using it. Bring up to a bubble and simmer while you make the sammies.

Preheat large skillet over medium heat. Assemble your grilled cheese sandwiches, with cheese & bacon on the inside, & the bread buttered on the outside. Grill the sandwiches on both sides until the bread is browned & the cheese is melted.

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