On the one hand – resolutions, new beginnings, fresh starts.
On the other hand – cold, dark, dreary, and filled to the brim with post-holiday blahs.
So do I go with lean healthy meals, low-fat snacks and high-fiber/protein/superfood/whatever?
Or head towards warm, soothing “comfort” food?
Can you guess what I chose?
I’m a firm believer in the quality-over-quantity, everything-in-moderation style of cooking and eating. If I’m going to break code with a doughnut, burger or milkshake, it better be worth it. Which for me means quality ingredients, thoughtful preparation, and (in a perfect world) a twist on the typical recipe.
Like this soup.
Is there a more classic winter meal than tomato soup and grilled cheese? It’s the ultimate in-from-the-cold dish, beloved by kids and adults alike.
But as an adult I sought a stepped-up version – one that would retain the basic flavors and feel of the classic, with just enough tweaks to turn even a simple meal into something special.
Let’s start with the soup.
Roasting at a high temp creates a magical alchemy with even the most bland, end-of-season produce. From carrots to potatoes to even apples, a long roast in the oven brings out the natural sugars and caramelizes the edges to lend a sweet and complex taste and texture.
For the soup pictured here I used a mix of beyond-late-season beefsteaks and bland-ish looking plum tomatoes. But feel free to use whatever you can find in the store – cherries, vine-ripened – anything will work. A generous drizzle of olive oil and an accompaniment of garlic and sliced onions do all the work to bring those tomatoes to life.
And how about these “croutons”?
Kick same-old grilled cheese to the curb and turn that sandwich into croutons to go right into the soup.
And here’s the secret to the most amazing grilled cheese ever: spread the outsides of the sandwich with mayo before grilling. No waiting for the butter to soften, and the tang of the mayo cuts through all that richness of the cheese. Genius.
Are you excited? A few easy tweaks turn a humble dish into one you could just as easily serve dinner party guests (think shot glasses of soup topped with a single crouton – you just crushed Saturday night).
So stay warm and indulge – it’s winter!
Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese “Croutons”
This recipe is only available in the VRAI Magazine Seasons – a Sampling of Seasonal Recipes that Inspire, digital cookbook. Get it here.