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Monday, October 31

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

This is so much the Halloween recipe that I waited to post it, on October 31. In fact, tonight’s dinner is chicken chili but I want to share this today because the soup is loaded with garlic. And you know garlic keeps the vampires away. Sometimes, it's easier and fun to be silly.

And though it doesn’t feel like Halloween in the old city here in Germany, I am still playing along.
Grilled Cheese

4- 6 ounces Emmentaler (swiss) cheese, grated

6 slices sandwich bread, sliced 1/4 inch thick (I bought a bread that was part sourdough and part wheat bread from my Bäckerei and it worked)

2 tablespoons butter or clarified butter, softened

Heat a cast iron skillet or a heavy 12-inch skillet over low to medium heat. Meanwhile, brush the outsides of the bread with softened butter. Layer one slice with 1/3 of the cheese and top with the 2nd layer of bread.

Put each sandwich in the skillet. Put another heavy skillet or pan on top for weight. Cook until crisp and deep golden brown, 3 minutes then flip the sandwich, carefully (we had trouble with this because the cheese stuck to the cast iron skillet), and continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Serve immediately with hot tomato soup.

Tomato Soup

5 vine ripe tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tablespoon clarified butter
1 small onion, sliced or chopped
small Parmigiano-Reggiano rind*, optional
1 cup water
1/4 cream or whole milk

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place whole tomatoes and unpeeled garlic cloves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast tomatoes and garlic until skins are wrinkled, 30- 40 minutes. (My garlic became too brown, but I don’t mind so watch the garlic).

Heat clarified butter in medium pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the cheese rind if using. Peel tomatoes and garlic once cooled. Stir in tomatoes, garlic, salt and black pepper to the pot with onions. Add water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until soup thickens, 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

When slightly cool, remove the cheese rind with a slotted spoon. Blend the soup with a hand blender or a food processor. Pour the soup back into the pot and stir in whole milk. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Serve immediately with cheese sprinkled on top and grilled cheese sandwich.

*Note- when I’ve grated all the cheese from Parmigiano-Reggiano, I save the rind (it is edible) for soups and stews. I add the rind after the onions/garlic/celery/carrots are finished sautéing. The rind releases its flavors while the soup cooks. Then when the soup’s ready, discard the rind. It’s safe to eat but no one wants to get a big piece of semi melted cheese block in a bite. I learned this rind trick from Lidia Bastianich.

(I know many cheeses are naturally aged and have edible rinds but some do not like Gouda. If you decide to add a rind other than Parmigiano- Reggiano, make sure it’s one that is edible otherwise you’ll end up with melted plastic soup.)

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