On the first week of my 52-Week Recipe Challenge, I featured a dessert. Last week I presented a main dish. This week, let's prepare one of the best soup recipes in my recipe catalog: Spicy Tomato Soup. During my childhood, my mother frequently served our family tomato soup along with the American classic, grilled cheese sandwiches. The soup was always Campbell's canned tomato soup. Even as I entered my manåmko' years here on Guam, this was the only tomato soup I knew.
Then, a few years ago, my husband and I were invited to a progressive Christmas dinner party hosted by the Lutheran Church of Guam. On a Saturday evening in early December, parishioners and guests alike gathered at the Lutheran Church in Anigua. At the church, we were treated to an array of fantastic appetizers. Once we downed these taste treats, we all boarded a bus and were driven from home to home to continue the progressive dinner. These stops included one for soup and salad, another for the main dishes, followed by the last one for desserts.
Jim and Esther Rollen hosted the soup and salad stop. The setting was spectacular! The Rollens reside in their beautiful home overlooking Pago Bay. As we sat on the balcony watching the sun go down, I took one spoonful of Esther's tomato soup and quickly ran back into the house searching for her. I practically begged her to share the recipe with me. She graciously did so. I am confident that you'll enjoy it as much as we all did that wonderful evening.
Also, keeping my mother's memory in mind, as an extra bonus, I'm including a few tips on making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Serve the soup and sandwich with a salad and you have a complete meal.
Week 3: Spicy Tomato Soup
Serves 6 people.
1 large onion, diced
1 head of garlic, diced (or 6 to 8 individual garlic cloves)
1 1/2 tablespoon of butter
1 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil
One 28 oz can of tomatoes (They'll be pureed later, so it doesn't matter if they are whole or diced.)
Two 15 oz cans of chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons of flour
1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of pepper flakes, subject to your preference
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, subject to your preference
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, subject to your preference*
Salt to taste (1/2 to 1 teaspoon)
Pepper to taste (1/4 teaspoon)
1 cup of whole milk or half & half
Sour cream, for garnish
Shredded Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Dice 1 onion and one head of garlic and sauté in butter and vegetable oil in a large pot until translucent. (About 4 minutes)
Add 2 tablespoons of flour and quickly coat the diced onions and garlic.
Add a 28 oz can of tomatoes.
Add two 15 oz cans of broth (chicken or vegetable).
Add the sugar, pepper flakes, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Simmer 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the flour doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
Let it cool a little and then puree in blender. (May take a couple batches depending on size of blender).
Return the blended soup to the pot and add milk or half & half and let simmer until hot.
When ready to serve, you can garnish with a spoonful of sour cream and shredded Parmesan cheese.
You can store the soup in the refrigerator and the taste is even better the next day.
*In the food aisle at Ross you can find "The Gourmet Collection" of spice blends. These are blends of 3 or 4 spice mixes. I have a blend with smoked paprika, garlic, chili and chives. I use 1 teaspoon of the blend instead of the 3 separate spices. (Although, to spice things up a bit, I do add at least 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes).
A note on the grilled cheese sandwiches
Over the years, I've learned the two secrets to making a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich.
First, use good cheese – don't use processed cheese. A good buy is the 2-pound block of Bandon cheddar cheese you can find at Cost-U-Less. It is tasty and you can slice the cheese to your desired thickness.
The second secret has to do with how you prepare the bread. When assembling the bread, be sure to spread the butter or margarine over the entire surface of one side of the bread. This is the side that you'll put on the grill. So, for instance, if you want to make 5 sandwiches, arrange 10 pieces of bread on a large flat pan. Butter the topside of all 10 pieces. Heat your grill to 350 degrees and place 5 pieces of bread on the grill, butter side down. Then, place the sliced cheese on top of each piece of bread. Next, place the remaining bread in the pan on top of each piece of cheese-covered bread on the grill. The buttered side should be on top so that when you flip the sandwich over, the butter side is on the grill. Grill each side until golden brown.
I like to mix ketchup and Tabasco together as a dip for the sandwich.