And for once, it's not food related.
I know I'm about 5 years behind on this, but I finally started watching Game of Thrones. And I now understand what all the fuss is about.
I've been meaning to start for about a year now, and finally decided that winter of 2017 was the right time. (Winter is coming... heh.)
Problem is, it's consuming my life. I watched 17 episodes my first weekend. I'm now through the first three seasons (so 30 episodes in all) with 30 to go.
The rest of my life is somewhat suffering because of it, specifically the blog. So I'm implementing a self-imposed "pause" from my GOT binge to get caught up on a couple blog items... starting with this very season-appropriate comfort food dish: grilled cheese and tomato soup. (Ironically, I actually made this during the first weekend of binge watching, so I did manage to tear myself away from the show for a couple hours then. A girl's got to eat, you know?)
BUT.... this isn't just your run of the mill grilled cheese and tomato soup combo. It's a smoky tomato soup that uses bacon fat to sauté the onions along with a little smoked paprika. I wanted a fresh herb to counter the smokiness, so I went with tarragon (mostly because it started with "T"), but you could use basil or oregano or whatever strikes your fancy. (Who says "strikes your fancy" anyways? Apparently I do.) I repurposed the bacon into the grilled cheese later and used some shredded chicken I had made in the crockpot to create a Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese sandwich (inspired by my friend Tiffany.)
Of course, you can use fresh tomatoes if you want, but it's a lot more work, and I don't really love the tomatoes this time of year since we have to import them from warmer places. I would much rather use a high quality San Marzano canned tomato (the same kind I use for my homemade marinara sauce.) If you can, look for certified ones that are products of Italy to get the real deal. This lovely can will make the recipe go oh so fast.
For the grilled cheese, I used two types of cheese: freshly shredded pepper jack (freshly shredded always melts better), along with a sweet gorgonzola to play with the Buffalo sauce flavors. I mixed a little Frank's wing sauce with some shredded chicken and heated it on the stove until warmed through before constructing my sandwich on some homemade rustic bread made by my next door neighbors. I apologize for the lack of step-by-step photos, but I happened to be making this in the middle of a snowstorm, so the light was crappy and I was in a hurry to get back to GOT. Much like I'll do as soon as I finish this post.
Smoky Tomato Soup & Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Keywords: saute entree sandwich soup tomato buffalo wing sauce chicken bacon fall winter
Ingredients (4 bowls of soup, 4 sandwiches)
- 2-3 slices thick cut bacon
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1-2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 (28 ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes
- 2-3 cups chicken or veggie broth (or can use water if you don't have any)
- 1-2 pinches sugar
- 1/4 cup cream (optional, for garnish)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (or could use basil or oregano), plus more for garnish
- salt & pepper
- 8 slices thick cut bacon
- 2 cups shredded chicken
- 1/2 cup Frank's Wing Sauce
- 8 slices rustic bread
- 2 cups freshly shredded pepper jack cheese
- 1 cup gorgonzola dolce (or regular blue cheese is fine too)
InstructionsFor the soup:
- Fry whole bacon slices in a large, heavy bottom pot (such as a dutch oven) until crispy. Remove to paper towels to drain. (If making grilled cheese, reserve for the sandwiches. Otherwise, eat or use for something else. Could even crumble them over the top of soup if desired.)
- Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat. Sauté onions and garlic in the 2 tablespoons of bacon fat until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add smoked paprika and red pepper flakes and cook 30-60 seconds until fragrant. Pour in tomatoes (with any sauce from the can), and broth. Add sugar. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add whatever fresh herbs you are using and purée using an immersion blender. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until soup has thickened to desired consistency. Season to taste with fresh cracked pepper and sea salt.
- Serve with a swirl of cream (optional) and topped with additional herbs alongside Buffalo Grilled Cheese sandwiches.
For the grilled cheese:
- Fry additional bacon slices and remove to paper towels to drain. (If you are also making the soup, you should already have 3 cooked.)
- While bacon is frying, combine shredded chicken and hot sauce in a small saucepan. Heat over medium until warmed through.
- Butter bread. Put 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack (or more if you desire) on one side of the bread. Top with warm buffalo chicken. Spread gorgonzola on the other side of the bread and top with 2 bacon slices. Combine into a sandwich and fry over medium heat until golden brown on both sides and cheese is melted.
- Serve warm with smoky tomato soup!
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