Monday, November 21, 2011

Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwich Bites

This is a warm, satisfying lunch for the darkest depths of winter, or you can serve it as an appetizer.

3 pounds Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bulbs garlic
1 white onion
1 red bell pepper
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mini Sandwiches:
1 french loaf
8 oz provolone (or cheese of your choice)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Peel onion and cut into quarters.  Slice ends off of garlic bulbs.  Place the vegetables on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast until vegetables are slightly charred and tender, or about 20 minutes.

Squeeze garlic out of skin.  Slice bell pepper open and scrape out seeds.  Place roasted vegetables in a food processor and puree.  You can do this with an immersion blender, if you have one.  Transfer vegetable mixer to a pot and add basil, thyme, red pepper and stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook for about 30 minutes.

While soup is cooking, preheat oven to 350.  Slice bread into crostini sized slices and place on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place in the oven for about 5 minutes, just long enough to begin to brown.  Remove from oven and place cheese slice on top of half of the bread slices, then top with another bread slice.  Return to oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.

When ready to serve, ladle soup into a bowl and top with a sandwich.  Or, serve it on the side for dipping.

Tips -  You can make this in advance and serve the next day, just make sure to reheat the mini sandwiches in the oven so they stay crispy.  Enjoy!

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