In your mind, winter is over. Out the window, not exactly. You're itching to get south to the red rock, there's slush in the street, you're ready to shed some down, but you're still scraping your windshield. You know Easter is almost here, but it's mud season, baby. You need soup for your soul, and we're not talking chicken.
Here's the deal about tomato soup: When the tomatoes are perfect (mid to late summer), you don't want a bowl of hot tomato soup. But when the weather calls for a steamy bowl, fresh tomatoes are just a gardener's dream. Such a diner's dilemma.
For all of today's fanaticism about local, fresh food, this is when you're grateful for modern technology: canning, trucking, vacuum-sealing and everything else that goes into embalming summer food so you can eat it out of season.
So here's a recipe for tomato soup:
Tomato Soup Serves 4 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 2 cups whole canned tomatoes Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 stalk celery, diced 1 small carrot, diced 1 yellow onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 cup chicken broth 1 bay leaf 1/4 tsp. dried oregano 1/2 tsp. basil, 1/4 cup cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Strain the canned tomatoes, reserving the juices, and spread onto a baking sheet drizzled with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Roast until caramelized, about 15 minutes. Heat remaining olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic; cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Chop and add the roasted tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, chicken broth, bay leaf and oregano. Simmer until vegetables are very tender. Add basil and cream, if using. Puree with a hand-held immersion blender until smooth.
Local Finds: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Creamy tomato soup and grilled Prima Donna cheese, Niman Ranch ham and apricot mostarda on ciabatta at Trio, 680 S 900 East, SLC, 801-533-8746 Grilled goat cheese with arugula and herb butter and pressed tomato soup at Metropolitan, 173 W Broadway, SLC, 801-364-3472 Grilled white Vermont and orange cheddar cheese sandwich and roasted tomato and fennel soup at Oasis, 151 S 500 East, SLC, 801-322-0404 Grilled cheese at Caffe Niche, 779 E Broadway, SLC, 801-433-3380 Tomato soup and grilled cheese at Carlucci's Bakery, 314 W Broadway #1, SLC, 801-366-4484 Grilled cheese and tomato soup at Diva's Cupcakes, 1560 E 3300 South, SLC, 801-485-0619 Grilled cheese of the day at Citris Grill, 2991 E 3300 South, SLC, 801-466-1202
Grilled Cheese Sandwichâ€”It's one of the simplest American meals. But, like most simple foods, a grilled cheese sandwich can be a delight or a disaster. We've all been presented with a sandwich of not-quite-melted American cheese on flabby white bread brushed with melted margarine. And a rubbery pickle, as if that helps. On the other hand, nothing is more satisfying than crisply golden-brown-and-buttered bread, oozing melted cheese.
Making Your Own
Choose Bread that is evenly cut, not too thick, or the bread will blacken before the cheese melts. Spread butter thinly, or brush olive oil on the outside of the sandwich. If butter is too hard to spread, melt a pat slowlyâ€”one for each sideâ€”in the pan you're going to cook in. Don't be tempted to cook the sandwich too quicklyâ€”the cheese needs time to melt. Do press down on the bread with the back of the spatula as the sandwich cooks. It makes a better meld.