Saturday, April 9, 2016

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese & Sauerkraut Sandwiches

Although it's well past the vernal equinox here, it hasn't really felt like spring.  I mean: SNOW! Chilly days call for comfort food and that's what these recipes offer.  The tomato soup is adapted from Jennifer Steinhauer and appears on Cooking New York Times.  That recipe calls for a whopping 1/2 pound of butter and 3/4ths cup half-and-half.  I cut the recipe down a bit and used 2% milk instead.  We also added some chopped marjoram, which despite the chilly temps, is burgeoning in the garden right now.  This is a very comforting soup that is not unlike the kind you might have had from a can--only better (and likely better for you, too!).

What better to go with tomato soup than grilled cheese sandwiches?  We glammed these up a bit by adding sauerkraut that we made from cabbages last year. We followed Sandor Katz's directions for making sauerkraut with great results.  So these are basically Rubens without the "ru."  Don't know why I haven't thought to add sauerkraut to grilled cheese before: it's amazing!  

Tomato Soup
makes about 4 1-cup servings

4 tablespoons (1/8 pound) butter
1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons flour
1 quart tomatoes--whole or crushed (or 1 28-ounce can)
1/2 to 3/4ths cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons honey, plus a bit more to drizzle on top if you'd like
1 teaspoon salt (more or less, depending on how salty your broth is)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup milk (1%, 2% or whole--coconut milk might also be nice!)
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram (or oregano), minced, plus a bit more sprinkling on top if you'd like.

In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium low heat.  Add diced onions and cook, stirring often until they are very soft (and sweet).  Do not let the onions brown. When onions are very soft, sprinkle the flour over them and cook for a few minutes (2 or 3 at most)--stirring and, again, not letting the onions or the flour brown.  Crush the tomatoes if you're using whole ones. Add tomatoes, broth, honey, salt and pepper to the pot and stir well  Raise the heat and bring just to a bubble, then turn on very low and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring very regularly so the bottom doesn't burn.

Remove from heat.  Stir in the minced marjoram and let cool a bit. Puree all in a blender. Return the pureed soup back in the pot and reheat if needed.  Stir in milk. 

Grilled Cheese and Sauerkraut Sandwiches
Makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices rye bread
1-2 ounces Swiss cheese, sliced about 1/4 inch thick (cheddar or other cheeses would also be good!)
1/2 cup sauerkraut, rinsed
1/2 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon ketchup
1/2 teaspoon capers, diced
1 teaspoon dill pickle relish or diced dill pickle.  (You could use sweet relish instead, but if you do, skip the honey!)
1 teaspoon honey

Lightly butter two slices of bread and place in a frying pan or griddle on medium low heat.  Divide the cheese slices between the two slices of bread.  Top with the sauerkraut--about 1/4 cup for each sandwich.

Stir all of the ingredients for the sauce together, mixing well.  Spread about one teaspoon of sauce on each of the remaining slices of bread and place them sauce-side down on the sandwiches in the pan. Butter the outside of those bread slices.  Check to see if first slices are well-browned on the bottom (and the cheese is melted) and if so, flip over and cook for a few minutes more.  Slice the sandwiches in half and serve with the tomato soup.

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