Tomato Basil Soup
- olive oil
- 1 red onion (chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1, 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 4 cup chicken stock
- ground black pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 bunch, chopped finely basil
- parmesan cheese
Lately the weather has been upside down here in San Diego, flash floods, cars stranded in the middle of intersections with water flowing into their cars, tornado warning (yes, I said tornado warnings.. in California. I was just as surprised as you. I’m 100% prepared for what to do in the case of an earthquake, but tornados… what are you even suppose to do to prepare for that?)
Apparently the answer if you live here is just to get home as fast as you can, and hope that your home is on high grounds. And my answer? Make something for dinner that matches with the weather.
I don’t know what it is about grilled cheese and tomato soup that makes it comfort food. I never had it as a kid growing up, which is odd because the amount of sourdough and gruyere that my dad and I ate on a daily basis seemed like at some point it would have inspired a delicious grilled cheese, but no. We lived in more of a charcuterie household, and I’m pretty sure never once did he make tomato soup. It must be an American thing that I picked up watching too much TV and Campbell’s commercials but there’s nothing better than creamy tomato soup to dip a crunchy grilled cheese into.
I had recently bought some Japanese milk bread from this little bagel shop up in North San Diego because we heard that this place had a secret Japanese bakery section that they unveiled at 11:00AM, only 3 days a week. The Japanese housewives in the area quickly swept in, got what they needed for the next few days and then it was our turn. We went to Japan over Thanksgiving and I find myself more and more needing to fulfill the Japan cravings, on a somewhat daily basis. I’ve never bought milk bread before but I saw it and thought it just looked like the most perfect grilled cheese bread. Add that to the fact that Jimmy bought me an immersion blender for Christmas I had yet to use, and it was settled.
- Chop onions and garlic. Add olive oil to a stock pot on medium-low heat. Cook the onions with a generous pinch of kosher salt until translucent, stirring frequently. After about 15 minutes your onions should be soft. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
- Stir in tomatoes and chicken stock. Seasons with salt and pepper. Jimmy’s a big pepper fan so we used about 2 teaspoons but I’d recommend you season to taste.
- Boil on high, then once you reach a rolling boil, reduce the heat down to the lowest heat and simmer for at least 15 minutes. Now is a good time to start making the grilled cheese!
- Add cream, then if you have an immersion blender, go ahead add the and blend everything together, add basil and stir to incorporate. Don’t have an immersion blender? No problem, pour your pot carefully into a blender, blend, then return to your pot.
- 4 slices Japanese milk bread
- 1 cup pepper jack, shredded
- 1 cup sharp cheddar
- 1 jalepeños, sliced (optional)
This part is easy as long as you make sure to butter the bread. This is crucial in getting that delicious crunchy outside and soft bready inside.
- Warm your largest pan up to medium-high heat and add enough butter to melt and coat one side of each of your slices of bread. Place in half of your bread, so if you’re making 3 sandwiches, only coat 3 pieces of bread and rotate the bread in the pan to make sure the entire surface of the bread has been lightly coated.
- Place a layer each of the shredded pepper jack and sharp cheddar. I’m a huge cheese fan so sometimes I overdo it, but add at your own discretion.
- Turn your stove to low and allow the cheese to melt without burning the bread. I like to put a cover on the pan to trap the heat in, if the pan gets too hot I’ll pour in a little bit of water and trap the steam in. Don’t pour in too much that it soaks into the bread though! I meant to make these jalepeño grilled cheeses but couldn’t find good peppers at the store, but this would be when you’d want to put in anything additional.
- Once the cheese is almost fully melted, add the other slice of bread to complete the sandwich. I always find that my pan is way too hot to melt butter again at this point so I like to remove the bread, flip my pan over in the sink, and run the bottom side under water. This cools the pan enough so that when I flip it over, there’s isn’t any water in the pan, and I can add butter to the pan; it’ll melt quickly but won’t brown immediatly. Now coat the new bread with butter, and cook until golden brown.