Photography & Art Direction by Heather of Heather Gill Photography
One of my most cherished memories of eating an open faced grilled cheese sandwich, a steamy bowl of creamy tomato soup and a cold glass of milk, is when I was a little girl and my GG , would lovingly prepare me this meal for me whenever I was sick, stayed home from school, or needed some extra TLC. There is just nothing better than having your Grandma take care of you and her making your favorite comfort foods. I could always count on her to do that for me and make me feel special. As a I grew older, the tables had turned , and I was the one lovingly preparing this recipe for my GG to comfort her when she was ill. I will always be very grateful for the time I got to spend with her.
For the creamy tomato soup:
- 4 lbs. ripe heirloom tomatoes
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 T unsalted butter
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup chicken stock, or as needed
- 1 t fresh basil, chiffonade, extra for garnish
- 1/2 t sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
For the grilled cheese:
- 3/4 lb. mild cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
- 6 slices whole grain bread
- 1/2 pound cream cheese, softened
- 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
Directions: To make the soup, preheat an oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and place them, cut side up, on the prepared baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Roast until the tomatoes look somewhat shriveled, about 45-50 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes and any juices to a food processor, pulse until chopped, then put the tomatoes and their juices through a food mill placed over a bowl. You should have about 3 1/2 cups tomato purée. Discard the contents and tomatoes skins from the food mill.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the tomato purée, 1/2 cup stock, and the basil and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Stir in the sugar. In 3 or 4 batches, transfer the soup to a blender and process until smooth. Transfer to a clean saucepan; add the cream and heat until piping hot but not boiling. If the soup seems too thick, thin with more stock. Season to taste with salt, pepper and garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve warm. To make the open face grilled cheese sandwiches; heat a griddle or 2 large frying pans over medium heat until hot. For each sandwich, place one-fourth of the cheese on top of bread slice and top cream cheese, then layer with fresh tomatoes, season with salt, pepper and garnish with extra basil. Place on the griddle, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the undersides are golden brown, 3–4 minutes. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Serve and enjoy!!!
Modern Day Forager