Creamy Tomato Soup & Loaded Grilled Cheese

Grilled-Cheese

This month’s Kosher Connection link-up is all about comfort food. I had a hard time decided just which food I should share with you. I decided to share with you a food and a memory that brings comfort to me. Be sure to scroll all the way down to the end of this post to see some other great recipes from my fellow Kosher Connection bloggers!

I have several defining food moments of my life. Many of them revolve around lazy Sundays with my family. My parents would both be cooking in the kitchen and my sisters and I would be running from room to room taking in the delicious smells, and probably engaged in some sibling rivalry.

Sundays were days filled with a bustle of activity. Our days were spent running from swimming to pottery to theater at the JCC, and then home for a warm supper around the family table. One of my dad’s specialties is a loaded grilled cheese sandwich. My sisters and I would gobble that sandwich up.

This grilled cheese was never just standard white bread and American cheese. It was always filled with surprises. Some days it would be tomato and onion within the gooey cheese. Other days, we might find a sprinkling of sunflower seeds hidden inside. We always enjoyed it.

Later in college, whenever I was in the mood for that taste of home,  I would order up a grilled cheese sandwich. Like during my childhood, it always had stuff in it. It was often filled with provolone, onions and mushrooms. On a rainy day, I would add a cup of soup to the meal. I learned to love creamy tomato soup on those rainy New York days. Dipping a corner of grilled cheese in to that soup and chowing down – that spelled out a bit of heaven.

Pure comfort on a plate.

I thought I’d share this fabulous meal with you today.

Creamy Tomato Soup
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 – 28 oz. can of roasted tomatoes
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ cup half & half
  • additional salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. In a large soup pot, heat up the olive oil on medium-high heat.
  2. Add in the onions, celery, carrots, garlic and herbs.
  3. Cook on medium-high for a few minutes until the onions begin to soften.
  4. Stir in the canned tomatoes.
  5. After a couple minutes of cooking, add in the vegetable broth.
  6. Let the soup come to a boil and then turn down the heat to medium low and cover the pot.
  7. Let the soup simmer covered for about 45 minutes.
  8. Check on the soup. The carrots should have softened.
  9. Puree the soup with an immersion blender.
  10. Stir in the half & half.
  11. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning.
  12. Serve and enjoy!

Creamy-Tomato-Soup

Loaded Grilled Cheese
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sandwich
Serves: 2 sandwiches

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • ½ tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 3-4 slices cooked veggie bacon, optional (or the real bacon!)
  • 4 slices of your favorite hearty bread
  • 2 slices Provolone cheese
  • 2 slices Cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices Swiss Cheese
  • Butter for grilling the sandwiches

Instructions
  1. Heat up the butter and olive oil in a saute pan.
  2. Once the butter has melted, add in the onions. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook the onions slowly until caramelized. About 15-20 minutes.
  3. Once the onions begin to caramelize, add in the garlic and sliced mushrooms. Let those cook and soften as well.
  4. Remove from heat once onions are done and set aside.
  5. Cook the veggie bacon or regular bacon in a pan or in the oven or per directions on the package. Set aside.
  6. Make the sandwich. Place a slice of provolone on the bread slice and then layer the onions and mushrooms then cheese then bacon then more cheese and then the other slice of bread.
  7. Butter the outside of the bread.
  8. Grill in a fry pan over medium-high heat until brown on both sides and the cheese is melted.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

 

White Bean and Kale Soup

white-bean-soup

My daughter came home from a friend’s house and excitedly told me all about the Olive Garden soup she had just eaten for dinner. I don’t think I’ve been to Olive Garden since I was about ten-years-old. I definitely didn’t remember any soup. The friend’s family knows that we don’t eat at Olive Garden and they understand that Gila is a vegetarian. After a moment of panic, I composed myself and asked her to tell me more. She happily told me about this amazing soup filled with spinach, potatoes and delicious broth. For days after, she asked me if I had made my version of the soup yet. I had just finished a marathon soup cooking session. My freezer was already bursting with various soups. I wasn’t ready to make another soup.

As they often do, circumstances change. In the middle of the work day, I quickly texted my husband and asked him what he thought I should prepare for dinner. With a groan, he told me all about his two root canals from earlier that morning and then fast forwarded to the part where he told me that all his jaw could handle was some warm soup. He told me not to worry. He assured me that he would just venture out to a local take-out place and buy something. I couldn’t let that happen. I decided that this was the night to make the soup of Gila’s dreams.

I had some kale in the fridge that needed to be used up.  I decided that it would be perfect in place of the spinach. I also had a ziploc bag of already cooked white beans in the freezer. I set off to make my version of this Olive Garden Soup. Amazingly, I was successful. Gila went to bed with a full and happy belly and Jason happily had three bowls of soup. This hearty soup is a winner and will definitely be made again!

White Bean and Kale Soup
 
Author:

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, cut up
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 3 small potatoes, peeled and sliced (I used purple, but you can use your preference)
  • 1 bunch of kale, washed and trimmed and chopped
  • 2 cans of white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. basil
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 2 tsp. thyme
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • Additional salt and pepper as needed
  • Soup noodles (alphabet or any variety will do) optional

Instructions
  1. Heat up the olive oil in a large soup pot
  2. Add in the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and cook a few minutes to soften.
  3. Stir in the salt and pepper
  4. Add in the kale and the potatoes and the kale and cook a couple of minutes
  5. Add white beans, tomatoes, broth and the water – along with the spices
  6. Bring the soup to a boil
  7. Turn the heat down and let simmer while covered for at least an hour.
  8. If you’d like some noodles in your soup, add them about 15 minutes before serving.
  9. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

white-bean-soup-in-spoon

VeganMofo: Italian Sausage and Peppers Sandwich

I was at Trader Joe’s the other day, doing my weekly spending binge. I was wandering the refrigerated case and peering at their selection of fake meats. I usually stick to the same stuff each time, but on this trip I decided to check out their Tofurky Italian Sausage. I usually just buy the Trader Joe’s brand, but this one was slightly cheaper and looked decent enough, so I tossed it in my cart.

I usually just slice and saute these sausages with veggies and pasta. I wanted to do something different this time. I thought about the sausage carts near my office. An old coworker of mine used to pick up sandwiches from these carts often. They were cheap eats. While I never really crave street meat, the smell coming from my friend’s sandwich was always pretty good. I am so glad that I chose to recreate this sandwich at home. These were so good. And I highly recommend the Tofurky sausages. These had great flavor, better than some of the other fake sausages we have had. My meat-eating, pepper-disliking husband had three helpings of this! I call that a successful meal!


Italian Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches
Ingredients:

1.5 tbsp. olive oil
1 package of Tofurky Italian Sausage or 1 lb. of Italian Sausage
1 large onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tbsp. red wine
1 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. chopped basil
1 tsp. oregano (dried)
salt
ground pepper
4 hoagie rolls
Daiya or Mozarella Cheese (optional)

Directions:

Heat up the olive oil in a large saute pan.

Slice your sausage and add to pan.  Cook for a few minutes until browned slightly on edges.  Remove to plate.

IMG_2232

Add the onions and peppers to the pan and cook a few minutes. Add in the garlic and mushrooms. Cook a few more minutes.

Add in the red wine, tomato paste and spices. Stir in and cook for around 5-7 minutes. The peppers and onions should be soft and the flavors incorporated.

Italian Sausage and Peppers Hero Sandwich

Taste and add salt or pepper as needed.

Scoop out the bottom of the hoagie roll.

Layer on the sausage. Top with the peppers and onion mixture.

Add cheese if desired. I had mine with some Daiya Mozzarella cheese sprinkled on top.

Enjoy!

Italian Sausage and Peppers Hero Sandwich
veganmofo

Meatless Mondays: Polenta Lasagna

Mondays are sometimes the hardest days to figure out dinner. I am not a big fan of Shabbat leftovers, and there are never enough to serve the whole family come Monday. I am tired and not wanting to really prepare anything, but it’s too early in the week to justify getting takeout.

A big trend in the food blog world lately is Meatless Mondays. I like this idea. Of course in my house, almost every day is a meatless day. Still, I like the ideas behind it, and am more than happy to spread the word.

I decided on polenta lasagna. I always have cornmeal lying around, but as luck would have it – I had one of those handy dandy tubes of prepared polenta from Trader Joes sitting in my cabinet. I had my doubts about this dinner. I knew that my husband would love the lasagna, but I was nervous that the kids would be begging for some sort of dinner alternative. I lucked out. The kids loved it. They ate it all up. They didn’t even bat an eye at the spinach! Score! To top off the good luck – they devoured the steamed broccoli I served with it. Ten points for me!

Polenta Lasagna
Ingredients:

1.5 cups of good tomato sauce
1 tube of polenta, sliced into 12-15 slices
1.5 cups of ricotta cheese

3/4 box of frozen spinach
1 tbsp. italian seasoning
5 cloves smashed garlic
salt
pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 egg
1.5 cups of shredded mozarella
a few leaves of basil, chopped
shredded parmesean

Preheat oven to 375.

In a mixing bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, the spinach, half of the mozarella, the egg, and the herbs.

In an 8×8 pan, spread a thin layer of tomato sauce. Place half of the polenta rounds over the sauce. Top with half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Spread a thin layer of sauce and repeat the polenta/cheese layers. Spread another thin layer of sauce. Top with mozarella cheese and sprinkle with the parmesean.

Bake in the preheated oven for about a half hour. Garnish with the chopped basil. Serve with some steamed veggies and/or salad.

Enjoy!

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