Creamy Tomato Soup with Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
After the elegance and extravagance of the holidays,
January is a good time for getting back to basics, especially in
the foods we eat. Here are some comfort food recipes your family
is sure to enjoy in the coming weeks. In the first recipe, mini
grilled cheese squares float atop a creamy tomato soup like dumplings
for a new take on this classic comfort food combo.
10 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 slices of American cheese
12 slices of white bread
2 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Chopped chives or basil for garnish, optional
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the plum tomatoes in a large baking dish.
Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Roast until the tomatoes
are soft, 25 to 30 minutes.
In a large stockpot set over medium heat, heat the
remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and
cook until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the roasted tomatoes and their juices, the canned
tomatoes and their juices, and the stock to the stockpot, and bring
to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, stir in the cream, and season
with salt and pepper. Simmer the soup for 10 minutes; do not bring
Remove the pot from the heat and use a handheld
blender to puree the soup until its as smooth or as chunky
as you prefer (If you dont have a handheld blender, you can
use a potato masher to break up the tomatoes, or you can crush them
against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.)
Make six sandwiches with 1 slice of cheese between
slices of the white bread. Cut off the crusts and cut each sandwich
into quarters. Crimp the edges of the bread together with a fork
to make little packets that enclose the cheese. You should have
24 cheese dumplings.
In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, melt
a tablespoon of the butter. Working in batches and adding more butter
as needed, grill the cheese dumplings until they are lightly browned
and toasted like little grilled-cheese sandwiches.
Ladle the soup into six bowls and top with four
dumplings each. Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped chives or
basil, if desired.
Lettuce Wedges with Blue Cheese Dressing
This wedge salad is a steakhouse classic, but you
can serve it up in your home at any time. The recipe below is for
2 heads of iceberg lettuce and 8 servings, but you can use only
half the dressing for one head of lettuce and store the remaining
dressing for up to a week in your refrigerator.
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 heads iceberg lettuce
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 tomatoes, finely diced
Freshly ground pepper
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the lemon juice,
mayonnaise, buttermilk, sour cream, garlic powder and onion powder.
Whisk the mixture together until smooth.
Add the cheese and mix just until blended. Chill in an airtight
container in the refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving.
Core and quarter each head of lettuce. Serve a generous
dollop of dressing over each lettuce wedge and top with the bacon
and tomato. Season with pepper.
Classic Pot Roast
Pot roast usually calls for a lower-cost cut of
meat like chuck, which makes this a good value as well a tasty choice
for a family dinner. Cooking the meat long and slow in red wine
and beef stock, along with lots of vegetables, makes the roast very
tender and flavorful. Serve with the horseradish-chive mashed potatoes
3 pound boneless beef chuck roast
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons canola oil
4 tablespoons butter
2 medium red onions, cut into quarters
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 12 to 16 pieces, about a pound
8 cremini mushrooms, halved
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 head garlic, top cut off to expose cloves
3/4 cup tomato paste
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs rosemary
2 cups red wine, preferably cabernet
4 cups beef broth
Preheat oven to 340 degrees. Season meat generously with salt and
pepper. On the stove top, heat oil in a large Dutch oven, or other
heavy roasting pan with a lid, over medium-high heat. Sear the meat
until a dark crust forms, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove meat to
Reduce heat to medium and add butter to the pan.
Melt the butter and add the whole head of garlic and vegetables,
stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pot, until the
vegetables start to color, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently,
until it darkens slightly, about 5 minutes.
Add bay leaves, rosemary, and wine and cook, stirring
occasionally, until liquid is reduced to a thick gravy consistency,
5 to 7 minutes.
Return meat to the pot. Add broth, then cover the
pot and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Let roast sit at room temperature for at least 10
minutes. Remove meat to a cutting board to slice. Discard bay leaves
and rosemary stems. Squeeze any garlic cloves remaining in their
skins into the stew and discard the skins. Serve slices of meat
in shallow bowls along with the vegetables and a generous amount
of cooking liquid ladled over top.
Horseradish-Chive Mashed Potatoes
Nothing is more comforting than creamy mashed potatoes,
especially if served with a meat dish that has lots of gravy or
sauce, like the pot roast recipe above. This recipe adds horseradish
and chives to the potatoes for extra layers of flavor.
2 pounds whole russet or Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 to 1 stick butter
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup horseradish
1/3 cup chopped chives
Cover the potatoes with cold salted water; simmer
45 minutes. Drain, peel, and mash with 1/2 to 1 stick butter. Add
sour cream, horseradish, chives, and salt and pepper; mash until
smooth and fluffy.
Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
Everyone loves muffins! They are ideal for breakfast,
lunch, or served with your afternoon tea or coffee. Lemon and poppyseed
muffins are a classic combo and we offer the recipe below as the
final entry in our list of January comfort foods. Enjoy!
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus up to 1 tablespoon for topping the
muffins, if desired
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly brush
a 12-cup muffin tin with butter and set aside. Sift the flour, baking
powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment,
or with an electric hand-held mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter,
zest, lemon juice, and 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about
2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Remove
the bowl from the mixer. Stir in the poppy seeds.
Fold the flour in 3 parts into the butter mixture,
alternating with the milk in 2 parts, until just combined. Take
care not to overmix the batter. Divide the batter evenly into the
muffin tin and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake until golden brown,
about 25 minutes. Cool muffins in the pan on a rack. Serve warm.
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