Monday, August 13, 2012

Roasted Tomato Soup and Grilled Habanero Cheddar Cheese Sandwich

This summer has marked my first foray into growing tomatoes, and after lots of fretting and waiting, my enormous German Johnson heirloom tomato plant finally yielded some red-ripe fruit yesterday. After cutting and eating a slice I'm salivating for more - this is a delicious varietal. Although I could have sliced the whole monster up and eaten it with a sprinkle of salt, I decided to put them towards a soup & sandwich combo - the most beloved of all, tomato soup and grilled cheese. I've made this soup many, many times after transcribing the original recipe from an old Gourmet magazine years back, and can say with authority that it's only as good as the tomatoes you use. Please, for the sake of delicious soup, search out fresh-picked, organically grown tomatoes, either from a farmers market or a roadside stand or your own backyard!

Roasted Tomato Soup
Makes 2-3 entree-size servings

*Approximately 3 lbs fresh-picked, organically grown tomatoes
*4 unpeeled garlic cloves
*1 small shallot, minced
*1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
*1 tablespoon butter
*1 cup chicken or veg stock, plus a little extra (preferrably homemade)
*1 tablespoon heavy cream
*1/2 teaspoon adobo sauce

Heat the oven to 350. Quarter the tomatoes and spread them skin side down in the one layer onto foil-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with a little salt. Add the unpeeled garlic to the sheet and roast it all for about 45 minutes or until the tomatoes are very soft and their skin is dark brown.  Peel the garlic when its cooled enough to touch.

Towards the end of the roasting time melt the butter in a pot over moderate heat and saute the shallot with a sprinkle of salt and fresh cracked pepper for about 10 mins. Add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices, the garlic, stock and oregano to the pot, and then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Puree in a blender (prudently!), or use an immersion blender to blend the soup until it is smooth.  Add more stock in little amounts to thin to desired consistency, making sure to taste after every addition, and season with more salt & pepper if necessary. Mix the cream and adobo sauce toegther, ladle out the soup, and then drizzle the cream over the top.

Grilled Habanero Cheddar Cheese Sandwich
Makes 2 sandwiches

*4 slices sourdough or farmhouse style bread (I use Pepperidge Farm)
*3 tablespoons softened butter
*2 heaping cups grated habanero cheddar cheese (I use Oak Shade Farm)

Heat a wide cast iron or nonstick skillet over moderate heat. Lay your bread slices out, and evenly butter one side of all 4. To assemble the sandwiches, lay one piece of bread into the hot pan, buttered side down, and carefully pile a heaping cup of grated cheese onto it, gently spreading it around the bread raft. Lightly press another piece of bread, buttered side up, down onto the pile of cheese and then cover your pan and cook for 4-5 minutes. Covering the skillet speeds up the melting process. When you take the cover off, you can scrape out all the delicious, crispy cheese-bits that didn't stay on the bread and while nibbling them, flip the sandwich over carefully and press down with a spatula. Brown on the other side for another 2-3 minutes.

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