This soup has a pretty funny story.
These past December holidays we visited our brother and sister-in-law who had just had their first baby. Since I’m not a parent yet, I know next to nothing about raising a new human but I’m a pretty good cook so I decided to help out with the meals.
One evening we decided to put this soup together for dinner. We were halfway into the recipe when we discovered that they didn’t have a stick blender, only a Nutribullet. Even though there’s a warning on the bullet to NOT INSERT HOT CONTENTS, we decided to throw caution to the wind and transfer little bits of hot soup at a time to blitz. But obviously as things moved along we started to get hasty, adding more and more soup at a time.
I later learned that if you put a hot liquid in a blender, it expands.
Next thing we knew the soup-filled bullet-bomb exploded all over the kitchen, over everything! It was on us, the floor, the baby bottles, the dummies, all the jars and plates lining the walls, even on the ceiling! EVERYWHERE!
There was a pause as we all observed the chaos.
Then everyone put down what they were doing (luckily baby was asleep), and started cleaning that kitchen from top to bottom, unpacking nearly every piece of crockery to wash and wipe. Over an hour later we finally sat down to eat our half-blended soup.
For me, this is what being a family is all about. And now every time I make this soup I think back to that night.
I have fiddled and tweaked this recipe over the years and eventually I’ve settled on this combination. I honestly believe it is the most delicious tomato soup out there. The smoked paprika (which is totally different from plain paprika) adds a gorgeous rich depth of flavour that plays well against the sweet roast cherry tomatoes.
As for the grilled cheese, this is the ultimate combo. Using a mix of mozzarella and cheddar gives you extra ooze and a punch of flavour. Just remember, take it low and slow.
As with anything, the best produce will deliver the best flavour so try to get your hands on the good stuff.
I am really proud of this recipe, I hope you enjoy it too.
Cooking time: 1h30 plus prep time
1 kg cherry tomatoes
2 sticks of celery
2 cloves garlic
500ml organic beef stock (or vegetable stock if preferred)
A glass of red wine
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
Salt to taste
1 tsp brown sugar
Toasted cheese sandwiches
Two thick slices quality white bread per person
An equal mixture of mozzarella and mature cheddar cheese
For the soup
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Place the cherry tomatoes in a large oven-proof tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until soft and sweet.
Roughly chop your onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Place a large pot on a medium heat. Fry your vegetables on a medium heat until slightly softened.
Add the tomatoes, stock, red wine and spices. Turn the heat up and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for about one hour.
When all the vegetables have softened, use a stick blender to blitz the mixture until smooth. Taste and season with a teaspoon sugar and to your preference. I always season my soups at the end; that way I have more control over the flavour.
For the cheese sandwiches
Place a pan on a medium heat.
Spread an even layer of butter on the outsides of bread. Add a generous helping of your cheese mixture and close the sandwich.
Place your sandwiches in the pan. The trick with the best toasted cheese is time and patience. Keep the heat on medium so that you get a golden toasted outside and oozy center. Use a spatula to press the slices together as they toast.
Once both sides are beautifully golden, you’re ready to eat.
Serve up a bowl of rich tomato soup with an oozy toasted cheese sandwich.