You know what you're supposed to do when it looks like this where you live?
I'll tell you. You're supposed to make soup. A big bowl of soup, filled with vegetables and not much else. If you're looking for extra warmth then of course you'll need a grilled cheese sandwich to go with it.
1 Yellow Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
4 Stalks of Celery
3 Medium Carrots
1/2 - 1 Red Pepper
1 - 12 oz. Can on Diced Tomatoes
3 cups of Low Sodium Chicken Stock
1/2 tbsp of unsalted butter
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Basil to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
A splash of milk, totally optional
Grated Parmesean Cheese, also optional but, really good
Makes soup for 4 people, or 2-3 very hungry, cold people
Set up your soup pot over low to medium heat with 2 swirls of olive oil. Then add the diced onion and thinkly sliced carrots and celery into the pot. Sprinkle a little bit of salt and stir the veggies gently and let that simmer for a few minutes. Then add diced garlic. Seriously, at this point you could just stand there and absorb the aroma - there are few smells I enjoy more than cooking garlic.
After the garlic, onions, celery and carrots get to know each other add thinly sliced red pepper. I only had half of a pepper, maybe if I had a whole one I would have used a whole one. The pepper adds a richer, sweet flavor and a beautiful deep red to the veggies.
At this point I added a touch of butter and gave the veggies another good stir and let them continue to do their thing. After 8-10 minutes of the veggies cooking the onion should be thoroughly translucent and the carrots softened.
Add the three cups of chicken stock and the can of tomatoes and give it another stir with one final sprinkle of salt. Turn the heat up to bring it to a boil. Once the soon-to-be soup is boiling place the top on and reduce the heat to low for 15 minutes.
While the soup is getting soupy it is time to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Here is the thing, I know that grilled cheese sandwiches can be make with tomatoes, bacon, fancy, cheeses, beautiful challah (my personal favorite), and sweet and savory jams, but, when I have a grilled cheese with soup I always go with an old faithful, American Cheese. Yes, wrapped in plastic and not really cheese at all, it is the perfect melty goodness perfect for soup dipping.
Grilled Cheese Ingredients - silly, I know
2 slices of Multi-grain bread
Some butter, not a lot, really
1 1/2 slices of American Cheese per sandwich
Double as needed
Lightly butter both sides of the bread. Very lightly. Place cheese in between slices. Put bread together and then put on a pan, or even better for a more authentic panini experience, grill it on a press or the George Foreman grill you still have from college. Cook the sandwich on both sides (of a pan) until browned and the cheese is melted, or on the grill press for 3 - 4 minutes.
I like a smoother soup, and I like being able to use the random kitchen tools we have so out came the immersion blender. You can also use a food processor. The quick blend - 3 - 5 pulses takes the soup from a chunky minestrone style soup to the more classic tomato soup.
Be fancy, serve it cute. This is a fairly healthy meal that will leave you feeling full, comforted from the cold and great to share. Extra points to Mark for his great food styling and photography!