First, I need to begin by thanking Lisa for inviting me to be a guest blogger this month. For those that do not know me, I am Jason Teiken. I am another attorney here in Mankato.
This blog is excellent for many reasons. We are currently living through a home cooking revival. Services like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Hy Vee Thyme meals etc., make it real simple, but we also need to be challenged. We need to constantly expand our skill set as cooks and our repertoire as diners. Blogs like this one give us new things to try, to learn, and to master. Even if it’s something “easy” as soup and sandwiches, it is sometimes the “easy” dishes that we take for granted. Making them or looking at different preparations of the “easy” dishes breaks the spell to a certain extent, teaches us new skills, but also helps us appreciate the work that goes into even the simplest dishes in restaurants and homes.
Cooking as with other skills are learned by doing. Even with the home cooking revival of late, it is still too easy to go out, take out, or even have our food sent to us on apps. You can even have your food delivered by a former Gopher Quarterback This blog provides the kind of accountability we all need to get us to do the cooking.
So proud to be writing this. Keep cooking, keep blogging.
But now, a recipe for grilled cheese and tomato soup so delicious, you wish you had a cold. I highly recommend this recipe when you are congested.
The Grilled Cheese.
Need to give credit where credit is due. This grilled cheese recipe is from the great Anthony Bourdain. His cookbook, “Appetites” where he catalogues his favorite dishes to cook for his family is a must buy. If you haven’t yet read “Kitchen Confidential” I highly recommend the audiobook read by Bourdain or if you have not seen “Parts Unknown”, seriously drop everything and binge it.
Bourdain’s recipe is a grilled cheese with caramelized onions. It is simple, but is exquisitely delicious and elevates the flavours of your hot bread and cheese quite nicely.
I am not going to go through the entire recipe in excruciating detail. Here is what you need:
- Bread – I recommend a special loaf from a local bakery. Do not do Bimbo White. Go to your local bakery and see what they have. I found a tomato basil loaf. Perfect for the soup. Cheesy loaf? Make sure the flavours go well with the cheese you will melt on it. Or a nice baguette. Obviously, do not get a nutty grain or something with a lot of nuts on it. You will need to spread things on this bread and flip it).
- Cheese – Now scoff if you must, but Hy-Vee has a brilliant cheese section. Ask for a good cheese that will melt. Yes believe it, not every cheese reacts the way you want to the heat. Cheddar is a classic. I highly recommend the Port Salut (pictured above), which you can also find at the St. Peter Co-op.
- Onions – This is key to the Bourdain recipe. You need to take two whole onions, chop them. Throw them in a pan with hot butter (2 tablespoons). You put the onions and butter on low heat for an hour. Stir occasionally and make sure every strand gets nice and brown.
And as it turns out . . .
I am one of those people who cry when they chop onions.
I’m not crying . . . you’re crying . . .
- Mayonnaise – This is another distinction from your usual grilled cheese. Instead of butter, use mayo. It reacts to the heat differently and saturates the bread.
Now here is the thing with grilled cheese. I can go through exact times, but with the grilled cheese, you need to watch it and flip it to your preference. Light brown, crisp, or burnt. It is up to you.
Make sure to have a good distribution of cheese and onions. As with any sandwich, it is a matter of construction.
The Tomato Basil Soup
This is my mother-in-law’s recipe. She was actually visiting this past weekend and we made it together.
- 4 medium carrot, chopped (optional)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup butter, cubed
- 1 can (49 ounces) chicken broth or 6 cups vegetable broth, divided
- 1 can (29 ounces) tomato puree
- 5 leaves of fresh basil
- 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper or to taste
- 12 ounces of half and half or heavy cream
- Sour cream or crème fraise for garnish
In a Dutch oven, cook carrots, basil and onion in butter over medium-low heat for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
In a blender, place 1/2 broth and the cooled vegetables; cover and process until blended. Return to the Dutch oven. Stir in the tomato puree, sugar, salt, pepper and remaining broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
Gradually stir in half and half; heat through (do not boil). Yield: 6 servings (2-1/4 quarts). Garnish as desired before serving.
Carrots? Yes, carrots. While they cook in the Dutch oven they release their natural sugars and create a sweet flavor that nicely blends with the basil and onions.
Here are a few pictures of the finished products: