It's not spring. Someone messed up the dates somewhere, because this is definitely not spring time weather. I earned a telling off from both my mum and my husband for attempting to shovel snow whilst 22 weeks pregnant (turns out being a grown up is having two generations entitled to tell you off), and definitely needed warming up afterwards.
There's nothing quite as comfortingly classic as tomato soup and grilled cheese (or a cheese toasty if you're joining us from the other side of the Atlantic- hello!). Whilst there's a lot to be said about keeping it simple, something adding a bit of flair doesn't have to mean a heck of a a lot more work.
I've jazzed up a classic with the addition of some sweet peppers, and turn up the decadence level on this cheese toasty with some goat cheese and butter baked, crispy crust!
For the soup:
3 cloves garlic
2 red bell peppers
1 large 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
Splash of olive oil
Salt and pepper
For the croutons:
8 slices white panini bread (slices that are larger than a standard sandwich loaf)
4oz cream cheese
2oz shredded mozzarella
2oz shredded Cheddar
2oz soft goat cheese
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat the oven to 360F.
Cut the tomatoes into quarters, deseed the peppers and cut into chunks of a similar size to the tomatoes.
Peel the garlic cloves and squash with the flat of a knife blade so that they crack- this will mean that when they roast they will become sweet and rich.
Tumble the vegetables in a large baking pan with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, so that everything is well coated.
Pop in the oven to roast for a total of 45 minutes, check and turn the vegetables over in the cooking oil at about 20 minutes.
Whilst the vegetables roast, mash together the cream cheese, mozzarella, cheddar and goat cheese in a bowl.
Spread evenly over four slices of bread, then top with the remaining slices. Lay out the sandwiches on a baking tray and brush the top slices with melted butter.
You want everything to finish cooking at around the same time, so don’t put the sandwiches into the oven until there’s only 15 minutes left for the vegetables to roast- this will give you time to finish the soup, and have it ready to be topped for your hot baked croutons! You can, of course, make these things separately.
Bake on the sandwiches, at the same heat as the vegetables for 20 minutes, then flip, brush with butter and bake for another 5 minutes until the bread is crisp and golden.
To finish the soup, scoop the roasted vegetables into a large stockpot and add the crushed tomatoes. Heat through until the soup bubbles; remove from the heat and blend until smooth. BE CAREFUL! Fresh cooked tomato soup is hotter than the surface of the sun.
Return to the heat to bring back up to temperature, add in a small handful of fresh chopped basil then serve.
Top the soup with your baked ‘grilled’ cheese, cut into generous croutons, and a sprinkle of fresh basil.
Want a play by play demonstration of how to make this recipe? You're in luck! I cooked this on The Rhode Show this morning so you can watch and cook along to the YouTube video below