April is National Grilled Cheese Month! What more reason do we need to celebrate this standard classic. We’re eating grilled cheese sandwiches made on jalapeno cheese bread stuffed full of jarlsberg, havarti, and sharp cheddar. The grilled cheese was accompanied by another classic: tomato soup! Our tomato soup was made by roasting fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, and pureeing them with sauteed onions, garlic, roasted red peppers, and fresh thyme. The soup was garnished with fresh basil pesto and truffle oil.
T: this was the best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. The bread was a big part of that. Can’t say enough about the jalapeno cheese bread from Bread & Cie. The cheese on the inside was also really good.
A: damn! that’s some serious love for the jalapeno cheese bread. you like this grilled cheese even more than the famous grilled cheese from chelsea’s?!? i thought it was quite good too, but i don’t know if i could really put it above the chelsea’s sandwich. there’s is on that really fresh, made in house, herb bread. mmm!
T: I’m pretty sure I prefer the Bread & Cie bread. I could live off of the stuff.
A: until you died of malnutrition! that stuff is certainly not packed full of all the vitamins and minerals you need to survive! ;-P
T: Well i could live longer off of it than I could off of Chelsea’s bread. So uhhh.
A: uh, yeah. so, uhhh. that’s what i thought! anywho… what did you think of the tomato soup… mmm with pesto and truffle oil… mmmm.
T: I thought it rocked the house. It wasn’t too acidic, and it tasted fresh and bright, and it had a good texture… not overly pureed. The truffle oil was not very pronounced, which was probably a good thing… just a hint. I dug it. I give the meal a 4.4/5. It could have scored higher, but it lost difficulty points. Grilled cheese is one of the 5 or so things that I can cook (including instant oatmeal), so it’s not as impressive to me.
A: um, like, could you have cooked the roasted tomato soup?!? that was, okay, that was easy too. you probably could have cooked that.
T: It would have been quite a challenge. I actually included difficulty points for the soup, though… without that the score would have been lower. So what do you rate it?
A: well i think anything that deserves a national month of celebration is nothing to scoff at! I give this grilled cheese a 4.55/5. It gets extra points for me for being a damn grilled cheese! so there! that and i really dug the soup and sandwich combo. it’s a standard classic that just can’t be done wrong… even by hideous cafeterias… although i can’t really eat campbell’s tomato soup.
T: That reminds me, I need to check with my boss about getting some time off for national grilled cheese month. Shit.
A: dude! i can’t believe you haven’t done that yet! we totally have that grilled cheese meditation retreat scheduled for the 25th – 30th.
T: I know, and I haven’t even picked out my costume for the big grilled cheese costume party on the 22nd. I’m thinking I’ll be your basic white bread/cheddar grilled cheese.
A: that’s perfect for you… you’re total white bread.
T: you’re the one that has to date me.
10 vine-ripened tomatoes, cored
4 1/2 tbsp olive oil, separated into 3 tbsp and 1 1/2 tbsp
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic or garlic paste
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme, roughly choppped
1/2 cup roasted red pepper, roughly choppped
3/4 cup water or tomato juice
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
fresh basil pesto, for garnish
truffle oil, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the cored tomatoes on a sheet pan and drizzle with 3 tbsp of olive oil. Toss the tomatoes to completely coat with olive oil. Season the tomatoes liberally with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Once the oven is hot, roast the tomatoes at 375 degrees for about an hour or until the peels are breaking open and the tomatoes are slightly caramelized and golden. Remove the roasted tomatoes from the oven and allow them to cool until they are at a handle-able temperature. Once you can handle the tomatoes, peel off the skins.
While the tomatoes are roasting, preheat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil to the pan. Once the pan and the oil are hot, add the onions. Saute the onions over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until they are translucent and soft. Add the garlic and thyme to the pan. Allow the garlic and thyme to cook for about 1 minute longer, then remove the pan from the heat until the tomatoes are roasted and peel.
Return the saucepan to the stove over medium heat. To the sauce pan add the roasted red peppers, water, sugar and roasted and peeled tomatoes, along with any juice that may have accumulated on the sheet pan while roasting. Using a hand blender, puree the soup to a well-blended yet slightly chunky consistency. If you don't have a hand blend you can just carefully transfer the contents of the saucepan into a blender or food processor and puree to a similar consistency using one of these devices. Once the soup has been pureed, taste it. Adjust the seasoning levels as necessary with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. If the soup is still a bit acidic try adding a touch more sugar. Garnish with fresh basil pesto and truffle oil for a decedent yet simple treat. Enjoy!