Friday, November 4, 2011

Fresh Tomato Bisque and Grilled Cheese Dippers

My very first Tomato Bisque was from a NY Soup and Sandwich Deli, with my better  on a cold, cold evening. We had decided to walk our way through Battery park and have a look at the fat, friendly squirrels there. Underestimating the NY winter which was definitely new to both of us, indeed turned out to be a big mistake. My ears froze and I had to feel them every now and then to make sure they were not falling off, and I'm pretty sure, my numb nose must have sprung a leak and was promptly converted into a pretty gross icicle. But he insists he would have noticed!
anyways, it was turning dark while it was still around 6.15 in the evening and we decided to get back to the ferry that would take us back to New Jersey, through the gray, cold Hudson. But as luck would have it, we missed the ferry by about 2 minutes and standing in that cold with nothing in our belly except for the lunch we had at noon, was simply not acceptable to us. We decided to go and have something hot and we could come back for the last one that leaves an hour later. And that was when we met the Tomato Bisque served with a crunchy, hot, grilled sandwich oozing with cheese and the sweet chewiness of shaved smoked  honey ham.
And lets just say, it was the beginning of a long term relationship, thats still going strong- between me, the soup and hot sandwich. And the kids love it too!
This is my version of Creamy Tomato Bisque made from fresh tomatoes, avoiding the canned, sodium high soups altogether.

4 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, 1carrot, 2 stalks of celery : uniformly chopped
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups water
4 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into pieces
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
6 whole cloves
1 tbsp Fresh parsley or 1/2 tsp dry
1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
1 whole garlic, peeled and chopped roughly
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper (as per your liking)
1 cup medium or whipping cream

First timers, dont freak out if the bisque doesnt turn out like this...Its actually tomato soup...I will put up a Bisque Picture soon...Didnt want to post it without a picture! :-(


Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Saute the chopped garlic, until glossy and tender. Add the celery, onion, and carrots and toss to coat. Stir over medium heat until they are tender. Sprinkle on the flour and continue stirring until the mixture foams. Stir in the water and bring to a boil.
Saving about a cup of the chopped tomatoes, for later, add the remaining tomato pieces to the boiling mixture. Stir in the brown sugar, cloves, bay leaf and thyme. If using dry parsley, add it now. When it comes to a rolling boil, lower the heat to medium-low and let it gently simmer for about half an hour.
Transfer to a blender and carefully letting the steam escape every now and then, blend until smooth. Return to the saucepan and stir in the reserved tomato pieces. Blend in the salt, pepper, any fresh herb that you are using and cream. Place soup over medium heat and warm gently, careful to not let it boil.Stir well. The soup is ready!
Now, for the Cheese Dippers we need per person- about 2 slices of bread (You can even try making it with Ciabatta bread, which really fills you up if you are having this combo for dinner), 2 slices of cheese and butter or cooking spray to toast the bread.
Heat a griddle, and meanwhile spray oil or slap on some butter on both side of the bread slices. When one side is toasted and lightly golden brown, carefully arrange the cheese on it, and slap on the browned side of another hot bread slice onto it. Flip and toast the remaining sides. Remove the toast onto a cutting board, using a sharp bread knife, slice each sandwich into 3 strips or into  2 triangles. Serve hot with a bowl of Tomato Bisque. Enjoy!

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