December 16, 2010

Ultimate Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

This week it's cold enough to flurry in the deep South and produce enough snow to collapse a dome in the Midwest, so everyone is in need of this body-and soul-warming comforting food.

Grilled Cheddar-Apple-Bacon Sandwich
This version of gooey melted cheese between slices of toasted bread takes a childhood favorite to whole new level. Sharp cheddar cheese combines flavor forces with salty bacon and crisp, sweet apple slices.

Tomato-Basil Soup
You might not be able to get decent fresh tomatoes this time of year, but cooking down canned whole tomatoes gets so much closer a out-of-the-garden taste than canned tomato soup. It makes for a medium-thick consistency. Fresh basil, still available for a price at the grocery store, completes the essence of summer-meets-winter soup.

Grilled Cheddar-Apple-Bacon Sandwich

Sourdough (or white) bread
Sharp cheddar cheese, sliced
Red apple, peeled and slice thin
Bacon, cooked

Place cheese, apple, and bacon between two slices of bread. Butter bread. Cook on a skillet until browned and crispy. Flip and cook other side. Slice in half and serve warm.

Tomato-Basil Soup

2-28 oz. cans whole tomatoes
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup half and half

Pour tomatoes into a large pot and gently break up the tomatoes into halves (or smaller). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to low heat, cover, and simmer for 30-45 minutes. Place tomatoes and basil in blender and beat until pureed; return to pot. Or, add basil to pot and use immersion blender to puree. Add salt and pepper and half and half. Increase heat to medium and stir until thickened. Serve hot.

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