Cream of Tomato Soup With Mushroom Sandwiches

One of the fringe benefits of having an Italian ancestry is never developing a taste for instant food. A side benefit of being an Indie Author is to be able to write about the wonders of the Italian kitchen.

This tomato soup recipe pairs wonderfully with a mushroom and fontina cheese sandwich.

Ingredients for the soup

10 plum or 5 beefsteak tomatoes

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1 large onion

1 carrot

3 Cups chicken or vegetable stock (never beef)

1 Tablespoon fresh thyme*

1 cup of cream

Salt & Pepper to taste

* Dried thyme is potent so be careful if you substitute. Just add a pinch and adjust as necessary.

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Step 1: Quarter the tomatoes and remove the seeds. Toss the tomatoes in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place in a 325 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

Step 2: Heat the 3 Tablespoons of olive oil in your soup pot and cook the carrot and onion.

Step 3: When the onion and carrot are soft (not browned), add the stock and thyme.

Step 4: Add the roasted tomatoes, and any other juices into soup pot. Let the flavors mingle for a minute or two, then blend (use a blender, food processor, or immersion blender) to a fine consistency.

*Steps 1-4 can be done ahead of time.

Step 5: Bring the soup back to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the cream. Return to heat to keep warm until serving

This should yield 4 crocs of soup.

Ingredients for the Mushroom and Fontina Sandwiches

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 Pat of butter

2 Tablespoons of melted butter

½ pound of mushrooms

1 teaspoon of sage

Sliced bread

½ cup grated fontina cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste

Step 1: Slice the mushrooms* and sautée in the olive oil, pat of butter, sage, and salt and pepper until brown.

Step 2: Brush the bread olive oil and melted butter and toast in a dry pan. Remove and brush the untoasted side.

Step 3: Build the sandwich with the mushrooms and grated fontina cheese. Place the sandwiches into the dry pan to toast the outside and melt the cheese in the same process. You can press the sandwiches a bit with a metal spatula

*Remember to either rinse or clean the mushrooms with a tea towel.

Final Step: Buon Apetitto!

French Onion Soup

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Men, this is the perfect dish to make on a cold night for that special someone in your life.  Not only will she be impressed by your culinary abilities, but she’ll be pleasantly amazed at how thoughtful you are.

Ingredients:

2 large onions (I prefer Red Bermuda onions)

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 clove of garlic

1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour

6 cups of beef stock (NOT a bouillon or broth.  Try Swanson or Knorr Beef Stock.)

1 bay leaf

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

Slices of French bread

Grated Gruyere or Baby Swiss (Do not use a cheese that is aged or sharp)

1 teaspoon of sherry (optional)

salt and pepper

Step 1. Peel and French cut the onions (for instructions, try here). They should be thin.  If the onions are large, quarter them.

Step 2. Melt the butter in the soup pot, along with the olive oil.  (Cooking Tip: Do not put cold butter into a scalding hot pot. Let the butter come to room temperature and keep the pot on medium heat.)

Step 3. Add the onions and toss in the hot butter and oil. When the onions turn translucent, spread them to the outer part of the soup pot leaving the center clear. Place the pot on a small back burner on the lowest setting. Cover and forget it for 45 minutes. This process is called “sweating,” and after 45 minutes the onions will be soft and limp. (ATTN: Men! Fear not. This is one of those few moments when you want to make something soft and limp,)

Step 4: Put the pot back onto a regular burner at medium heat and add the flour. The flour will absorb the oils and start to darken. It only takes a minute or two for the flour to cook.

Step 5: Add the beef stock, thyme, bay leaf, and sherry (optional) and bring to a boil for ten minutes. This is a good time to lightly toast the French bread.

Step 6: Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 7: Find that bay leaf and discard it.

Step 8: Fill two soup crocks with the onion soup. Cut a slice of French bread to size, place on top and cover with cheese. Place the crocks under the broiler. Let it melt, or make the cheese a little brown on top.

Step 9: After dinner, cuddle up on the couch with a romantic movie. (Tip: Try “Love Actually”)

Step 10: Prepare a candlelight bubble bath.

Step 11: If you need more instructions at this point, seek professional assistance.

Enjoy!