You don’t have to be sick to enjoy this classic tomato soup

Okay, Maine. It’s winter. We get it. Go home already.

This time of year, I find this on repeat in my head. Winter is that annoying little brother who is galloping around the house barking and rearing like a horse until you are finally so defeated that you go lock yourself in your bedroom for a couple of weeks because you know that all you can do is just wait it out (shout out to all the little brothers!).

Here in this northernmost state we call home, we have all been sick at least once by this time of year. I don’t know what exactly it is, but for many of us the first food we reach for is soup. Our instincts will tell us we have one of two choices: tomato soup or chicken noodle soup. Always canned. Clearly, these are the soups of sickness. Add in a stale cracker and we will be well on our way.

Well, I am here to tell you that soup can be enjoyed outside of the salty tin can. Like most things in life, with the right recipe, something as simple as tomato soup can actually be mind-bendingly good, especially when paired with the right grilled cheese sandwich.

So, if you’re searching for a warm comfort food that will feed the picky eaters and the food snobs in your life alike, look no further. Here is a soup and a sandwich for your repertoire:

The Soup

Serves 8

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

2 T. butter

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 c. chicken broth

28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, best quality (San Marzano, if available)

2T flour

1 ½ tsp sugar

¼ + tsp kosher salt (more to taste)

¼ + tsp black pepper (more to taste)

2 pinches oregano

1 sprig fresh thyme or 2 pinches of dried thyme

3 T. half and half

Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving

Fresh chives, minced, for serving

 

Optional Topping:

½ c. sour cream

¼ c. goat cheese

2 T. parmesan cheese, freshly grated

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

 

  1. In 5-6 quart Dutch oven or heavy pot heat oil and butter over med-low heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, then add garlic and cook for 1 additional minute, stirring occasionally. Add flour to the pot and stir for a minute to coat the onion and garlic. Add the tomato and tomato juices, crushing the tomato with your hands, followed by the chicken broth, sugar, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.
  2. Turn the heat up to med-high and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently so that the flour doesn’t stick to the pot. Once simmering, turn the heat to low and cover. Simmer on low for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Take your pot off the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the soup as much as desired. If you do not own an immersion blender, let the soup cool a bit and puree it in a blender or food processor in batches. Once pureed to the desired consistency add in the half and half and season to taste with salt and pepper. This is not the type of soup that you want to serve piping hot. Let it cool a bit before serving so that the flavors have a chance to meld together. Note: it will taste even better the next day!
  4. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and chives, or if you like goat cheese, try a dollop of the optional topping listed above.

 

The Sandwich

2 slices of bacon per sandwich

Kerrygold Aged Cheddar, as desired (you won’t regret this purchase)

Roma tomatoes

Butter

Bread, whichever kind you prefer (I use Pepperidge Farm whole wheat)

 

  1. Cook bacon to desired doneness. You can do this in whatever way you are accustomed to cooking bacon- in a fry pan, in the oven, or in the microwave. Personally, I fry it and prefer it crispy but not burnt. Set bacon aside.
  2. Wipe out bacon grease from pan (or don’t if you’re feeling especially naughty).
  3. Cut up your cheese and tomato into slices and take out your bread. Start stacking all your delicious ingredients onto the bread in assembly line fashion, first cheese, then bacon, then tomato.
  4. When you’re ready to cook the sandwiches begin by pre-heating your fry pan over medium heat. Add butter. Once melted, set your sandwich onto the buttered pan (I wouldn’t recommend doing more than two sandwiches at once—they tend to cook very quickly, depending on how hot your pan is). The sandwiches will easily overcook so keep a very close eye on them. Mine often take only a minute. To check them for doneness, lift the sandwich with a spatula, supporting the top half with your hand. If ready to be flipped, lift the sandwich off the pan, add more butter, and place opposite-side-down into the fresh butter. Cook for another minute-or-so. And done!
Bethany Mathieu

About Bethany Mathieu

Hey, y'all! I’m coming at you from the highly wooded, very snowy, central Maine town of Benton and I am here to take you on a food journey of epic proportions.