Monday, November 23, 2009

An American Classic

Next week one of our favorite wineries (Kunde Estate) will be having a holiday open house and has asked us to make the ultimate American classic, grilled cheese and tomato soup!

Hummm, that is a hard bill to fill, something so icon and classic… It needs to be gourmet, yet traditional and comforting.

We are known for our tomato bisque soup, it won the Kendall Jackson Tomato Festival a few years back so that one should be easy. A flavorful tomato soup with just a touch of cream but not too rich.

½ cup chopped onions
½ cup butter
1½ tsp. dill weed
5 cups chopped tomatoes
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tb flour
¼ cup chopped parsley
4 tsp. honey
1¼ cup heavy cream
2/3 cup half-and-half
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, saut√© onions in 6 tablespoons butter along with the dill weed for 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add tomatoes and broth and heat.  Make a roux by blending 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons flour, whisking constantly over medium heat for 3 minutes, without browning. Add roux to stock and whisk to blend. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add chopped parsley, honey, cream and half-and-half.  Remove from heat and puree. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Then the grilled cheese, it has to be flavorful but not over powering, gooey is a must but not messy, crisp buttery crust but not too bready. We tested a local organic white cheddar from Spring Hills Cheese, then St George from Matos, and last one of my favorites a Havarti. Thinly sliced brioche- yes I know it is French but we are the melting pot so bring on the best, brushed with unsalted butter – yes it is from our own Clover -  then cheese 2 slices thick. Grill and cut into sticks for easy dipping; you have to be able to dip it in the tomato soup.

And the winner is... the Havarti.  It's a perfect combination of all of the flavors and just melty enough to stretch.

Now we just have to make the 550 sandwiches and 40 gallons of soup and we're all set!

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