If you’ve been on any social media site (or interacted with real life humans, God forbid) in the past couple days then surely you know that it is OCTOBER! People are, like, freaking out about it. It’s fall! Cool weather! The leaves are turning! Well, here in central Texas, fall really just means that you no longer have to bring an extra shirt in your car for when you sweat through your first one. And no, those trees aren’t changing color for autumn; they are dying.
Yet despite never having actually experienced a true fall, it is my favorite season. As a cook, it opens up a whole new world of culinary possibilities- say goodbye to light summer salads and bring on the soups, stews, casseroles, and pot pies. The fresh flavors of the grill are exchanged for the deep, rich flavors of a braise. I’m talking about comfort food, y’all, and I, for one, could not be more ready.
So here we go. I am letting go of summer jumping head first into fall with an ultimate comfort food combo: grilled cheese and tomato soup. This has been one of my favorite meals since I was a kid, and still is to this day. Honestly, I’m happy to make this dinner out of Wonder bread, Kraft singles, and Campbell’s Tomato Soup– but allegedly I am an adult now, so I will offer you a grown up version of this classic. This recipe is everything comfort food should be- rich in flavor, perfectly satisfying, and simple. Oh, and totally spicy, because growing up with Royito as my father, that is my idea of comfort.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbsp butter
3 lb fresh tomatoes
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups (1 16 oz. jar) Royito’s Hot Sauce
20-30 large fresh basil leaves
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Pesto, homemade or store bought
White Cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Slice tomatoes in half and lay them on a baking sheet. Toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper.
3. Put them in the oven and roast for 1 hour.
4. Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan.
5. Toss in onion and carrot, and let them sauté over medium heat for about 7-8 minutes, until they are softened and caramelized a bit.
6. Add in garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
7. Pull tomatoes out of the oven, and throw them directly in the pot, juices and all.
8. Put in canned tomatoes, followed by veggie stock, Royito’s, and whole basil leaves.
9. Stir everything together and let simmer all together for 5-10 minutes.
10. Ladle the soup into a blender and puree, working in batches until all of it has been blended.
11. Return the soup to the pot on low heat to keep warm while you make the grilled cheeses. I forgot to take a picture of this.
For the Sandwiches:
I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you don’t need me to give you a step-by-step process of how to make a grilled cheese. For this one, I used good store bought pesto on one side of the bread to give an extra kick of basil flavor that works really well with the soup. I find the sourdough bread with sharp white cheddar and gruyere cheese to be an awesome combo- but you can use whatever bread and cheese you like! Ok, fine, I’ll give you my step-by-step process in picture form in case you really don’t know how to make a grilled cheese.
Yum. Don’t do mild, friends!