I should ask Dan exactly what prompted his sudden, intense craving for grilled cheese and tomato soup yesterday. I have a feeling he came across a recipe or image of the hot, comforting, gooey meal during his morning Internet browse and (understandably) couldn't get it out of his head.
Tomato soup isn't something I'd normally feel enthusiastic about. Chewing my food is part of the thrill and tomato soup is usually way too sweet for me. But then I remembered the leftover bacon in the fridge....
Not wanting to pour hot soup into my blender, nor buy an immersion blender impulsively, I pulverized the veggies before cooking much like I would when building the base of a ragout. The paste of grated carrot, garlic, and onion worked well. Though I've since learned that many people would advise against working backwards in this way. Softening your vegetables and then blending creates a silkier texture, but our soup didn't seem to suffer all that much.
Plus, adding heavy cream and two egg yolks added back any richness lost from not luxuriously simmering the whole carrots.
I also used a combo of tomato paste with pureed canned tomatoes. We'd missed tomato season by a few weeks, unfortunately. But all's well that ends well! (Note that if you're using tinned tomatoes, be sure to simmer until the metallic flavor cooks out, 25-30 minutes.)
For the sandwiches, we bought some country white as I insist that grilled cheese must be made on white bread... anything with whole grain or seeds just interrupts the crisp-to-gooey ratio. The cheese was a 50/50 combo of mild provolone and sharp Vermont white cheddar. And then, of course there was tons of butter.
Perfect for the first NYC fall day with a real chill!
For the Tomato Soup:
3 slices cured bacon, cut into 1 in pieces
1 large or 2 small carrots,
grated 1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 20 oz can pureed tomatoes h
alf pint heavy cream
2 egg yolks
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 can cannellini beans, gently rinsed (optional)
- In a dutch oven, render the bacon pieces until crispy. Remove and place on paper towel to drain excess fat. Turn off heat, but keep all bacon fat in your dutch oven.
- Puree carrot, onion and garlic in a food processor until paste-like.
- Turn heat back on (medium heat, add olive oil now if not using bacon fat) and add paste mixture, stirring constantly. You do not want the mixture to brown, but you do want to remove some of the water.
- After 5 minutes, create a hot spot in your pan and add tomato paste, toasting gently. After 1-2 minutes, combine with rest of the mixture. Cook another 2 minutes, stirring.
- Add in stock. (Personally, I was out of stock, so I created another hot spot, adding in half of a beef bullion cube and 2 1/2 cups water.) Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
- After 10 minutes, add in tomato puree. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until garlic flavor no longer tastes raw and metallic tomato flavor is cooked off.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, vinegar, and heavy cream. Do not over beat.
- Once soup is done simmering, stir in cannellini beans for a bit more texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in egg/cream mixture right before serving. Garnish with bacon pieces and basil leaves.