Not Quite the 'After School Special' You Remember
Ready for a trip down memory lane?
While the millennials out there may have no idea what I'm referring to, for those of us who grew up when bands sounded the same live as on their CD, all the TV shows ended with a teachable moment, and eating laundry pods wasn't a thing, we also all remember the 'After School Special'..... grilled cheese with tomato soup!
I've always found it interesting how a certain smell, or taste can trigger our brain to remember a memory from our past. The smell of fresh bread always reminds me of when I was in Paris and the hotel was across the street from an amazing bakery. Or the smell and taste of baked beans takes me back to family breakfasts at Pepere's house. The distinct cottage smell reminds me of my godparent's cottage we used to visit as kids. In this case, the taste of the delicious melted cheeses on grilled, fresh bread and the warm soup take me right back to getting home from school and my mom serving up this amazing combo for my sister and I.
A grilled cheese is one of the things I learnt how to cook early in my life. It's one of those foods that becomes a staple in most kid's lives and we likely all have a burn or two on our hands from trying to be independent and making them on our own. And I think we can all agree that when you started used 'real' cheese (instead of the almost plastic stuff in a wrapper) and loaded the sandwich up, the crispy melted overflow cheese in the pan was one of the best parts! (I should have written this before making the sandwich because my mouth is watering!!)
In this recipe, i kick the regular grilled cheese up a notch. I used a mix of provolone and extra old cheddar cheeses, and snuck in some delicious chorizo sausage! The bread is a farmer's white, which I found at the local bakery and it was amazing! Nice crust on the exterior and a fluffy cloud of white bread on the inside.
For the soup, while a can of Campbell's would have done the trick for memory's sake, I went with a homemade fire roasted tomato soup with basil. I am really happy with how it turned out, and having tried it with and without cream added, both tasted great, so it's up to you how you want to finish it (I've included both options in the recipe). It makes enough for about 3 servings which is great as you won't need to crowd your fridge with storage containers from a huge batch of soup.
I really hope that today's post took you all for a little trip back to when we didn't have bills to pay or deadlines to meet and we just enjoyed the simple (and delicious) things in life! School's out! Time for some Saved By The Bell and After School Special!
- The Kid
1 loaf farmer's bread (or any other bread)
4 slices chorizo
4 slices provolone cheese
1/2 cup extra-old cheddar cheese
Fire roasted tomato basil soup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced (i used colossal garlic)
1 cup sweet onion (chopped)
1 tsp dried thyme
2 cans (28oz) Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
Pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste (approx 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp pepper)
15 basil leaves
1/4 cup cream (10%)
Fire Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt olive oil and butter. Add onions, garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes. Cook until onions and garlic have softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Add roasted tomatoes, salt and pepper, and 10 leaves of basil and stir to combine. Let the soup sit over medium heat (stirring occasionally) until it starts to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.
3. Add chicken broth and stir to combine.
4. Lower the heat a bit and let simmer (stirring occasionally) for about 15-20 minutes. Add the remaining basil leaves
5. If you have an immersion blender, use it to blend the soup until all the bigger chunks of tomato are gone and you are left with a smoother consistency. The same can be achieved in a regular blender. (If using a regular blender, do it in batches, filling only halfway at a time.)
5a. If you want to add the cream, do so at this point. Stir it in the soup until it is all combined.
6. Serve immediately with basil for garnish.
Grilled Cheese with Chorizo
1. Pre-heat medium size pan over medium heat.
2. Place chorizo slices on pan and cook for approx. 2 minutes per side. When finished, pat dry and set aside.
3. Wipe pan clean from chorizo. Butter one side of one of the bread slices, and place on pan, butter side down
3. Add 4 slices of provolone cheese to cover the surface. Add chorizo on top, then the shredded extra old cheddar.
4. Top with other bread slice, buttered side up. Turn heat down slightly.
5. Cook for approx 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes. If you would like to melt the cheese faster, you can put a lid, or another frying pan over the one with the sandwich.
6. When the cheese has melted, remove from heat and slice diagonally. Plate and serve with soup.