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Need Your Killer Tomato Soup Recipe & Grilled Cheese Inspiration

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Hello Hounds! After reading through several threads, I was inspired by your tales of throwing a grilled cheese party where the host provides the bread and condiments/toppings and the guests bring the cheese. Brilliant! I can just imagine a big steaming pot of homemade tomato soup setting this over the the edge. Goodbye, Berlin cold-weather blues!

Here's where you come in:

1) Does anyone have a killer soup recipe? I am thinking something *not* laced with basil, as that might be straying too far from the Campbell's sense-memories. Also, it would preferably be based on canned tomatoes, as the fresh ones are pretty crap in Germany by now.

2) Here are some of my topping/bread ideas. What am I missing?

tomatoes
bacon
ham
pears
apples
sauteed mushrooms
arugula
spinach
pancetta/proscuitto
raisins
grapes
mustard
fig jam
cranberry/sour cherry jam

raisin bread
pumpkin seed bread
sesame seed bread
sourdough
plain white toast bread

Is beer the best beverage?

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  1. What types of cheese are you serving? I think pumpkin seed and seasme seed breads are too close... would take out the seasme seed and use pumpernickel or hearty multigrain insread.

    I made a very simple tomato soup last week- shallots and garlic sauteed, salt, pepper, coarse ground tomatoes and some water.

    Also, for your toppings I would include raspberry jam. I love raspberry jam and brie on a grilled cheese.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cheesecake17

      the cheese will be up to the guests...i hope they bring a variety of things!

      as for bread, i sort of have to stick with what I can find easily in bakeries here in Berlin. believe it or not, I have not seen pumpernickel; I agree, it would be delicious.

      1. re: ChristinaMason

        Hm.. the only thing I worry about is that everyone will show up with the same type of cheese!

        If you can't get pumpernickel or a multigrain... that's fine.. go with what you've got.

    2. I like to mix a little curry powder into the butter for the bread to be grilled. Some people may want mayo even with the cheese.

      I use some chicken base or vegetable base in the liquid for tomato soup.

      1. I think a crisp white wine would probably be great with this too. I make a soup similar to another poster's: roasted garlic and (small, sweet) onion, good quality canned tomatoes, and I use some chicked stock (obv. if there are going to be vegetarians present veggie stock is fine too). I blend mine until it's smooth because that's what I prefer and then dump it all into a pot. Love this idea!

        1. America's test kitchen has a great tomato soup recipe-ultimate cream of tomato soup. Uses canned tomatoes that you roast and puree with a touch of cream and chicken stock and finisg with cognac, brandy or sherry. The BEST tomato soup I've ever made. adam

          8 Replies
          1. re: adamshoe

            Okay, yum. That sounds delicious.

            1. re: adamshoe

              So America's Test Kitchen (free to access) has a creamless creamy tomato soup - http://www.americastestkitchen.com/re... - and the Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup is on the Cooks Illustrated (pay to access) site. Can you please paraphrase the Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup from CI, beacsue it does sound delicious!

              1. re: GretchenS

                Here goes- 2 280z can whole tomato, 3cups of juice reserved. Crush tomato slightly, spread on baking sheet and sprinkle with 1-2 tbsps brown sugar. Bake in center of oven @ 425 for 20-25 min. till liquid is gone and tomato is nicely colored. Set aside to cool. Saute 4 shallots in 4 tbs. butter add tbs. of tom. paste, pinch of allspice, reduce heat and cover to sweat shallots for 10 min. Add 2 tbs. flour to shallots and cook 1 min. Add 2 cups chix stock and the 3cups of reserved tom. juice and the roasted tomatoes. Simmer uncovered for 15-20 min. Drain into sieve or colander while saving all the liquid to go back in pot.
                Put all the solids plus 1 cup of the liquid into blender and puree till velvety, eventually blending everything in batches. Return all to pot and bring to simmer on med-low heat for 5-7 min. Stir in 1/2 cup heavy cream, heat thru. Off heat, stir in 2 tbsp. cognac, brandy or sherry. Adjust seasoning w/ S&P if desired. Enjoy. CI calls for 1 3/4 cups of stock, but screw them and their silly "one cup plus one half tbsp" sh*t! They also say to seed the tomatoes, but screw THAT, too. I think that's the recipe in a nutshell. You're welcome.... adam

                1. re: adamshoe

                  Adam, you're terrific, thanks so much, this will get made SOON!

                  1. re: GretchenS

                    Happy to help. I just checked the recipe and they like a little cayenne pepper rather than black or white to finish the soup. Warning: You will be ruined for any other tomato soup after making this. It's incomparable. adam

                    1. re: adamshoe

                      cheers!!

                      curious-- about how much does this make? if i have a stick (immersion) blender, can I skip the straining part and just blend everything in the pot?

                      1. re: ChristinaMason

                        Yield is 4-6 servings depending on size. I tried it w/ a stick blender- good, but not as smooth as w/ regular blender. Could just be my immersion blender, though.... adam

                2. re: GretchenS

                  I did some searching, and easily found the recipe on a few food blogs. Adapted, mind u, to throw off the ATK militia who will hunt u down and threaten legal action if u post their recipes. I would post a link for you but I don't want to draw ATK attention to any one site and get someone in trouble.

              2. YUMMMM! - I love grilled cheese and tomato soup!

                I don't have a killer recipe for tomato soup (I have made Tyler Florence's a couple of times - it is good, not killer) but one of my favorite grilled cheese sandwich is made with pesto and sliced mozzarella, it is such a good tomato soup dipper!

                1. maybe some quince paste? a crunchy soy bread would be fun too, maybe some italian bread (like the kind used for paninis?) peppadew peppers would be fun or maybe banana pepper rings. Some nice roasted asparagus? hmmmm I'm in love with this party idea though.

                  1. I just made a batch of tomato soup yesterday:

                    1/2 cup chopped onions
                    2 TB tallow
                    4 cups homemade beef broth (chicken's fine too)
                    1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
                    1 TB plus 1 tsp Penzey's tandoori seasoning mix (optional)
                    Salt and pepper
                    1/2 cup coconut milk

                    I sauteed the onions in the tallow in my faux Dutch oven until they were translucent, then added everything except the coconut milk and let it simmer for about 40 minutes. I then put in the coconut milk and pureed it in the pot with my stick blender until smooth. Butter and cream can be substituted for the tallow and coconut milk--that's my usual recipe but I wanted to try a dairy-free version since dairy and I are having a love-hate relationship these days. Right out of the pot it tasted really good, but because of the spices the true test will when I heat some for dinner tomorrow.

                    1. Caramelized Onions
                      Herbs - sage, basil, tarragon
                      Roasted Beets
                      Persimmons
                      Olives
                      Roasted Peppers
                      ...surely more will come to mind...

                      1. Thanks for the great suggestions so far. I will try to find the America's Test Kitchen recipe, it sounds good. I like the idea of pesto, and of course, some kind of onion condiment. I was planning on using this one and forgot to include it: http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/s...

                        1. I like to add slices of ripe tomato (Black Russian heirlooms especially) to the grilled cheese sand. I realize that's not an option in Deutschland this time of year.

                          1. I just made gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches for about 200 VIPs. I used Brioche with fontina and gruyer cheese. I then dipped the bread in a little melted butter and grated parmesan cheese then grilled it. Ugh, perfection.

                            1. I cannot stress this enough - when making your grilled cheese don't butter your bread! But rather, slather it with solidified bacon fat. The result will be the best grilled cheese you've ever had! Your grilled cheese will NOT come out tasting like bacon, I assure you. Although, it may have a subtle smoky taste (if your rendered fat is from smoked bacon). It creates a crunchy crust that is mouth-wateringly-good. Sourdough and white country bread, sliced a bit thicker are best.

                              Sounds like fun - enjoy!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: lynnlato

                                Ditto-I discovered this wonderful use for bacon fat recently, there was no butter in my frig and I really wanted a grilled cheese. I was amazed at how crunchy the crust was-"Although, it may have a subtle smoky taste (if your rendered fat is from smoked bacon). It creates a crunchy crust that is mouth-wateringly-good. Sourdough and white country bread, sliced a bit thicker are best. " So true, I'll cetainly never go back to butter!

                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                  I am so thankful to Alanbarnes for enlightening me to this culinary secret. Glad to see their are other enlightened folks out there as well.

                              2. I had a grill cheese party a while back ("you build 'em, i'll grill 'em") and the "home cooking" folks here were very helpful with suggestions. Here is the link -- perhaps you too will find good inspiration, though you seem to have lots of creative ideas already. Have a great and warming time!
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5417...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: amyleechen

                                  thanks!!!

                                2. My killer tomato soup recipe uses not-so-great tomatoes. The trick is to slow roast them. Cut your tomatoes in half, place them cut side up on a cookie sheet or low sided roasted pan, brush them with olive oil, sprinkle with some kosher salt and pepper. I do sprinkle with dried basil if I'm making soup, but you can skip that if you don't want the basil flavor. Roast in your oven at 250 for 5 or 6 hours, or until they have shriveled down 1/3 to 1/2 of their original size.

                                  Saute some chopped garlic and shallots (or onions, but I prefer the mildness of the shallots) in olive oil on low for 15 - 20 minutes. I like things spicy, so I also include some red pepper flakes. Puree the garlic, shallots and tomatoes with some stock of your choice (vegetable or chicken work best). You could use an immersion blender or regular blender. I use my Vita Mix, which means I don't have to worry about the skins -- they just puree away into nothing. Pour into pot and add as much stock as you want to get the consistency you like. The flavor is gorgeous and intense, and using my blender gives the soup an incredibly creamy texture without using any cream or milk.

                                  1. For a toast condiment, try putting out Bombay grill chutney or otherwise making your own out of cilantro, mint, chili and a bit of Maggi sweet and spicy sauce.

                                    1. You can save this one for next year's tomato season as you need dead-ripe tomatoes. I originally got this recipe from a friend who had clipped it out of an old Bon Appetit. This is the same thing online.
                                      http://www.recipegoldmine.com/soupbis...
                                      Yes, it does have basil but just a tiny bit and if you didn't know it was there, you wouldn't be able to figure out where that elusive nuance comes from. This soup is a more elegant and grown-up version of Campbell's and tastes very Americana.

                                      I served it at La Quinta Sagra del Pomodoro last month in San Francisco. I accompanied the cups of soup with open-face sandwiches spread with homemade pimento cheese on pugliese bread toasted in a toaster oven until bubbly.

                                      1. Mango chutney is lovely with sharp cheddar or gouda.

                                        1. Just wanted to update: this party is happening on Friday (the day after Christmas)!

                                          Very excited. Need to go buy ingredients soon and start roasting my peppers. :)

                                          Fingers crossed!

                                          Any ideas on accompaniments for grilled cheese? Thinking easy finger foods (Christmas will be a heavy cooking day as it is.)

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: ChristinaMason

                                            maybe salad of some sort, or even stuffed belgian endives for a salad finger food.

                                            some greens would be nice too, esp to complement the red soup and the sandwich... roasted brussel sprouts or roasted asparagus... or even a chilled spinach with a soy balsamic dressing to cut the creaminess of the soup and cheese.

                                            1. re: ChristinaMason

                                              Raw veggies & various dips or a salad would be good with the rich grilled cheese.
                                              If you want something cooked, I think this simple Marcella Hazan recipe would work well.
                                              Braised Carrots With Parmesan Cheese
                                              http://www.recipezaar.com/braised-car...
                                              or, Roasted Broccoli With Garlic and Red Pepper
                                              http://www.recipezaar.com/Roasted-Bro...
                                              or, Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Scallions
                                              http://www.recipezaar.com/shredded-br...

                                            2. Fabulous idea for a party. Do you have a griddle or something?

                                              You must have onions sliced paper thin. Raw, thinly sliced onions are also good with the mango chutney someone suggested here. And a good grind of black pepper.

                                              No rye bread in Berlin? I love a grilled cheese on that thinly sliced rye b/c it gets really crunchy. Can hardly wait to try it with bacon fat now for extra crunch. If anyone gives you a hard time about the bacon fat, you can point out that pork fat has less saturated fat than butter.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                We have a kind of steamed black bread here that includes rye, and something called "Landbrot" that I think is mainly rye flour. I think I confused rye and pumpernickel when I wrote earlier. But American-style soft rye bread with visible seeds is nowhere to be found here.

                                              2. The party was a great success; thank you so much to everyone for your suggestions and tips! I ended up offering the following for sandwiches:

                                                condiments/toppings:
                                                raspberry, strawberry, and lingonberry jams
                                                lemon-lime marmelade
                                                homemade cranberry-orange-walnut sauce
                                                garam masala curry paste
                                                mango chutney
                                                hot German mustard
                                                tarragon mustard
                                                sweet Bavarian mustard
                                                thin-sliced onions
                                                homemade roasted red and yellow peppers
                                                wild garlic (Baerlauch) pesto
                                                thin-sliced apples
                                                deli-slices of homemade turkey roulade
                                                deli ham
                                                Leberkaese (like bologna with liver)
                                                horseradish cream
                                                mayo
                                                Korean hot pepper paste (kochu jang)

                                                breads:
                                                homemade multi-grain
                                                dark German steamed rye
                                                white loaf (i.e. Wonder)
                                                raisin bread

                                                We also offered Chex-esque party mix, chocolate-covered pretzels, crudite with dill dip, cornichons, pretzels and mustard, and other things that escape me at the moment.

                                                The real highlight though was the tomato soup, a riff on the recipe adamshoe provided here. It was fantastic, thanks a million!

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                  Oh wow, I am stealing your idea. I was going to do a crepe party but now you have really inspired me! The lodge at my condo complex is totally campy and a perfect back drop for this sort of party. How did you grill the sandwiches?

                                                  1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                    We had about 20 people over, and just had two non-stick skillets on the stove with bowls of butter and knives for spreading on the counter to the side. The main table was covered in different cheeses and toppings. I also kept the tomato soup there on a warmer to make room on the stove.

                                                    You may find that people warm up to the idea of making their own sandwiches if you cook up several and cut them into fingers for dunking. I made three or four, sliced them up on a big wooden cutting board and passed, encouraging people to help themselves to tomato soup and begin assembling their own sandwiches.

                                                    1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                      Thanks, i was picturing that sort of set up, but wasn't sure.

                                                2. I too love tomato soup and cheese sandwiches. I make it often especially when the tomatoes are at their best. But I've also used canned, nothing wrong with those either and it can be just as good. I've added sherry to my soup too, as someone else suggested that's a winner. Or cognac, that too.
                                                  You can make your own croutons, or make a puff pastry top that you can use a spoon an break through to get to the soup.

                                                  I made this soup not too long ago, and it was ultra simple. I made grilled cheese using a 7 or so grain bread with fontina cheese. Very good. I did use fresh basil since I had a lot of it in the garden, but that's not necessary.

                                                  Try topping your tomato soup with a cheese, and make shards of croutons out of crusty bread. You'd have your sandwich and soup all in one.
                                                  I lean towards the bacon crumbles for topping or to stir in. Or perhaps some slivered sundried tomatoes, and or salty kalamata olives. Or make a hearty olive bread with the olives and sundried tomatoes.
                                                  Don't worry about using canned, the soup will be awesome!
                                                  Here is my latest batch... time to make it again, thanks for the inspiration!
                                                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/7220939@...

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                                    YUM!

                                                  2. Tomato soup's so simple, but so good. I'm a big fan of this recipe: http://www.joythebaker.com/blog/2009/... from Joy the Baker, I usually add 1 stick celery (chopped) with the onions, and 1/4 tsp ground cloves because it reminds me (in a good way) of Heinz/Campbell's canned soup. If you've got any parmesan rinds, chuck those in while the soup's simmering and remove them before blending for extra umami-rich flavour!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: babybat

                                                      must be me, but I don't like the parm rinds. Every time i've used them the soups sooo salty and I feel it ruins the soup, what's the trick? And I only use one per batch.