Comfort Food During the 2022 Winter of Chaos With Grilled Cheese and Homemade Tomato Soup

With all the chaos and uncertainty around us this winter, as well as record breaking temperatures nationwide and ridiculous amounts of snow, we are looking for comfort and comfort food.  The combination of tomato soup with grilled cheese reminds us of our childhoods, always comforting, and emotionally as well as physically comforting.

My mother, GG Frieda, used to make grilled cheese in a frying pan, and my grandchildren love when I recreate her grilled cheese sandwich.  It is an easy recipe but with more than a bit of labor (of love) involved.  Two slices of white bread are generously buttered on one side each. Three slices of American cheese are set aside.  In a frying pan, butter is melted.  The sandwich is compiled in the frying pan over low to medium heat.  One slice of bread, butter side down is placed in the pan, then the cheese is placed on top, then the second slice with the buttered side on the outside.  With a spatula, my mother will turn and turn the sandwich in the frying pan, adding butter to moisten further as necessary, until the bread was golden brown and the cheese melted. After the sandwich was done, she would cut off the crusts, of course, as do I, and cut the sandwich into four squares. This sandwich was accompanied by Campbells’ canned tomato soup in the 1950s.

This Grandma found two new recipes: grilled cheese roll-ups and easy creamy homemade tomato soup.

Grilled Cheese Rollups

Take the two slices of the white bread (or whole wheat, rye or sourdough) and cut off the crusts. Then, take a rolling pin and flatten the bread into thin pieces. Using shredded American cheese or cheddar cheese makes it easier to roll, but you can use American cheese slices. Spread a thin layer of cheese all over the bread, roll it up and brush melted butter on the edge to secure it shut.  Brush melted butter completely around the roll-up as well.  Place the roll-ups in a buttered frying pan over low to medium heat. Rotate occasionally and cook until the center melts and the outside becomes a golden brown.

GG Frieda served her grilled cheese with warmed Campbell’s tomato soup from a can.  There are many homemade tomato soup recipes, but this Grandma’s favorite is from Bon Appetit.  https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/creamy-tomato-soup-cheese-toasties

Here is just the tomato soup recipe adapted to make it even easier.

Ingredients (4 servings)

3 teaspoons minced garlic

2 large onions, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup sour cream or (to make soup vegan a couple of extra tablespoons of olive oil at end)

Directions

1.         Open and drain the 28-oz. can tomatoes into a colander set over a large bowl to catch juices.  Save the juices.

2.         Heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium. Add garlic, onion, and carrots; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent and just starting to brown around the edges, about 8–10 minutes.

3.         Add 1 tsp. paprika and stir to coat vegetables. Cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add whole tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until tomatoes start to burst and break down, about 10–15 minutes.

4.         Add 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, and 1 cup water to pot and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook about 8–10 minutes, just to help flavors meld.

5.         Remove from heat and purée soup with an immersion blender until smooth.  Can use a traditional blender if you do not have an immersion blender, but you should get an immersion blender which is good to have.

6.         Stir about ¼ cup hot soup into ¼ cup sour cream in a small bowl, then stir back into soup (for a creamier soup, feel free to add more). Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Don’t let soup come back to a boil at this point or sour cream may split.

You Can Make This Ahead: Soup can be made 3 days ahead or keep 3 days. Let cool, cover, and chill. Reheat gently over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Try to leave some for the grandchildren. Or with them, stick to Campbell’s which still reminds me of childhood.

Joy,

Mema

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