A slightly more grown up version of the classic combo…
My family loves tomato soup and grilled cheese. I love that it is an easy week night dinner that everyone will eat. I also love how warm and cozy a simple meal like this can be on a cold day. I’m sure you probably have a stand-by tomato soup recipe already, but this one may become your favorite.
I decided to try adding sun dried tomatoes to it this time to boost the tomato flavor. I also added 2 whole heads of roasted garlic. It really added a lot of flavor without making it taste to garlicky. I love the way roasting garlic mellows the flavor and allows you to use so much more of it without being overpowering.
The other key to great tomato flavor is to use good canned tomatoes. I love San Marzano tomatoes from Italy and they are available at most well stocked grocery stores. I use whole tomatoes since they will be pureed anyway.
I also like to buy concentrated tomato paste. It is sold in a tube near the canned tomatoes. It’s perfect to have on hand when you only want a little bit of tomato paste and not a whole can. It’s also concentrated so you don’t need much.
An immersion blender makes quick work of pureeing this soup. If you don’t have one, just do it in a regular blender in batches.
As for the panini, I went with a combo of goat cheese and mozzarella, prosciutto, roasted red pepper, and arugula. It was DELISH! I used focaccia and drizzled a little aged balsamic vinegar over the arugula before putting it in the panani press.
If you don’t have a panini press, you could do this on a grill pan or in a regular pan too. You will still get a very tasty grilled cheese! I actually don’t own a panini maker, but I do have a George Foreman grill (don’t laugh!!), and it works great for making paninis.
For the soup, you just need a little extra time in advance to roast the garlic. I do mine in the toaster oven in a ramekin. It is really simple…just cut the top (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch) of the head of garlic off, drizzle with a little olive oil, then roast at 400 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes or until it is very soft. You could also use a muffin tin or just wrap the whole head in foil. Once it is done, let it cool enough so you can handle it, then you can squeeze the roasted cloves out or use a small fork to pull them out. You may even want to roast an extra head to spread on your sandwich!
Sun Dried Tomato Basil Soup with Roasted Garlic
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, diced small
- 2 heads roasted garlic, cloves removed
- 1/2 cup oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, chopped (blot excess oil on a paper towel)
- 1 (28 ounce) can of good Italian plum tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 large bunch of fresh basil (about a cup), chopped, plus some thinly sliced basil for garnish
- 1 quart chicken broth
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat and saute the chopped onion and carrots for about 10 minutes. Add all of the roasted garlic, the whole can of tomatoes (don’t drain) and the sun dried tomatoes, the tomato paste, the chicken broth, and the chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender. Puree soup with an immersion blender or you can do it in batches in a regular blender. Add the cream and heat for a few more minutes. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if it needs it. Serve with more basil on top.
Paninis with Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, Roasted Red Pepper & Arugula
- Focaccia or Ciabatta bread, sliced for 4 sandwiches
- 4 slices of prosciutto
- 4 slices of mozzarella
- 4 ounces of goat cheese
- 1 jar of roasted red pepper, drained and blotted dry with paper towels
- 1 bag of washed baby arugula
- good olive oil
- aged balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper
These are very simple…start by spreading some of the goat cheese on 1 half of the bread. Add the slice of prosciutto, some of the roasted red pepper, and a small pile of arugula leaves. Drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of balsamic over the arugula and season with salt and pepper. Put the slice of mozzarella on the on top and finish with the other half of bread. Brush the outside of the sandwich with olive oil and cook in a panini press according for about 5 to 10 minutes (time will vary depending on your panini maker).