September 29, 2009

Monday's Hit - Tomato Soup and a Classy "Grilled" Cheese

Fall is here, but there’s still time to use those last few tomatoes that are in the farmers markets right now.  When I got back to work yesterday, my colleague was looking for the perfect easy tomato soup recipe – so it of course got me thinking of one of my favorites!  I make this one a bit quicker by using whole peeled tomatoes, and less creamy by just using ¾ of a cup of milk instead of cream.  Paired with a grown up version of “grilled cheese”, this made a perfect Monday night meal!

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup (adapted from Ina Garten’s barefoot contessa back to basics)

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 red onion chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 small cloves garlic
2 28-oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. tomato paste
3 c. chicken stock
salt & pepper
¾ c. whole milk
3 tsp. dried basil

Heat oil in a large stock pot (mine is 2 ¾ qt. and this just fit!).  Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 7 minutes, or until very tender.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat, and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes.  The tomatoes should be very tender.  Add the cream to the soup, and using a hand blender (or a food mill or regular blender), blend until smooth.  Reheat the soup and taste, adding salt & pepper as needed. 

When the soup is simmering, start making the tomato and goat cheese tarts.

Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts (adapted, barely, from barefoot contessa back to basics)

¼ of a sheet of puff pastry, defrosted
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper
1 tbsp. dry white wine
1 tbsp. grated parmesan
2 oz. goat cheese (I only had plain on hand, but Ina recommends garlic-and-herb)
3-4 ¼ slices of tomato

Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Heat oil in a small skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic.  Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the pan.  Add salt & pepper and the wine and sontinue to cook for another 5 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed and the onions are browned.  Remove from heat.

Using a sharp paring knife, score a ¼ inch wide border around the pastry.  Prick the pastry inside the score lines with a fork.  Place the onion mixture within the scored edge and crumble the goat cheese over the onions.  Place the slices of tomato on the tart and sprinkle with salt & pepper and the grated parmesan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

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