It is October, and it seems like fall is just starting to creep in on New York. Normally, it is about mid August and people start breaking out the scarves, light jackets, and slippers at night to keep the mosquitoes and chills off their arms and legs, but this summer has been long and splendid. Because of the extended warmth, shorts and summer vegetables have been abound, but it was really this weekend that the chills started up. After a long shift, biking home was just a bit too chilly for me. Long socks have become more of a necessity than fashion choice. And thinking about dinner, I started to think about soup.
It’s a sign for me that seasons are changing here when my culinary cravings turn autumnal and to a stove topped with a big pot full of soup or stew. During the summer, I always want fresh and raw. Light and crisp. Health and savory. But last night all I wanted was something comforting. Something that touched my soul with a warm hand and gave me an internal hug. So, I turned to a recipe I’ve been thinking about for a while: the combination of French Onion Soup, Childhood Lunches, and a touch of gourmet-ness.
After an afternoon of street festivals, candied apples, and bundling down into a down vest, I turned to my stove at five and started roasting tomatoes, garlic, and basil. I poured some vegetable stock into a blender and starting to caramelize onions on the stove top with olive oil and kosher salt. After a half hour at 400 degrees, the tomatoes (both canning tomatoes and cherry) were roasted, smoked, and absolutely delicious.
Yes, folks, I was on the path for some tomato soup. Childhood lunch, check. But what was so French Onion Soupy about it? When the tomatoes went into the oven, I also sliced nine pieces of baguette to let sit out and crisp up. Around five minutes away from tomato roasting completion, cheddar cheese found its way from block to grater to plate in anticipation to act as the crowning top to my baked roasted tomato soup.
With no mugs that might withstand the 400 degrees chamber for twenty minutes, I poured the tomato soup into mini-loaf pans, topped them with three slices of crusty baguette and sprinkled raw cow’s milk cheddar over top. Twenty minutes later, I had three serving of soup that satisfied the grilled cheese and tomato soup desires we all have on crisp evenings. Accompanied by a night of live bluegrass music, this evening left me excited for the autumn to fall.
Topped Tomato Soup (aka Childhood in a bowl)
½ pint cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
Sprinkle of basil
Slice all of that, roast in an oven at 400 for 20-30 minutes
2/3 cup vegetable stock
1 red onion chopped and caramelized
Add the tomatoes to this in a blender and pulse until combined
1 baguette, sliced and left out for at least an hour
Cheese (cheddar, gruyere, chevre, feta all can work)
Pour the soup into an oven-safe dish and top with crusty bread. Top that with the cheese. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.
I also served this with a balsamic sautee of mushrooms, bok choy, eggplant, and garlic. It was a nice, deep, compliment to the brightness of the sweet soup.