Yesterday was a wintry day: it was gray, it was cold, there were snow flurries. David and I had several ambitions for doing things outside the house, but the day got the better of us. Instead, we spent it inside, with much of the afternoon under blankets reading books (me: Eric Asimov’s How to Love Wine; David: Robert Caro’s The Power Broker).
So, since we didn’t even make it to the bar we’d been thinking about going to, David made us old-fashioneds in the early evening/late afternoon. A good friend brought us single-barrel Four Roses bourbon a while ago: this is some serious bourbon, 100 proof. I myself prefer the regular Four Roses bourbon but, alas, we were out (on today’s agenda: replace the bourbon). However, it being frigid and gray, I enjoyed the drink anyway, of course. We followed these with beers at dinner itself.
And, since we didn’t make it out for groceries in any real way, we made do. I had made tomato soup a while back, and we had some left in the freezer. Around lunchtime, when we realized we most likely wouldn’t be making it outside, I took the container out to defrost. Luckily for us, we did leave the house on Sunday, so we had greens, good bread, and cheese in abundance: grilled cheese and tomato soup time, baby.
David is the sandwich master around here, so these are his. For these, he did actually made one quick foray out into the winter night, to get bacon, which we had both decided these sandwiches REALLY needed. He butters the bread, then assembles the sandwich on the hot grill pan. Once the sandwiches are put together, cover them with a pot lid and let brown and melt over just-below medium heat; once the first side is browned, flip and brown the second side. I like to sprinkle a little salt on the finished sandwich.
The tomato soup is mine, though this dish has been making me a little bit nuts, which something as simple as tomato soup would not logically seem like it should.
I most often make tomato soup Mexican style: tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes), vegetable stock, corn, chilis (fresh green ones and one or two in adobo sauce), some form of sofrito (recipe here), hot sauce, sometimes shredded roasted chicken, served with avocados, tortillas, hot sauce, and maybe sour cream. This has been pretty foolproof and really tasty. However, sometimes we’re going for “regular” (classic? French?) tomato soup, and it doesn’t always come out quite the way I want it to. My main issue is thinness (which I think the Mexican version inherently avoids because of the fresh produce and saucy chilis in adobo): this soup lacks body. I start with a base of garlic and onions, adding fresh thyme, black pepper, salt, and sometimes a little herbes de Provence blend. After adding the tomatoes, I add some stock, a spoonful of sugar (to combat any acidity in the tomatoes), and a knob of butter. This soup tastes good, but I think it would be better with some dairy. I’m pretty sure this needs some milk or heavy cream to be what I really want it to be – I haven’t experimented with this yet because I have a fear of curdling the dairy in the hot broth. Next time (maybe)!
Side note: Satsuma Mandarins are in season right now, and available everywhere. I highly recommend you get some! I’ve been eating one after dinner almost every night for a few weeks now… A lovely way to combat gray, cold NY.