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Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches are a good match any time, but the Fall may be the best time, because you can pair the soup and sandwich with apple cider, and still sit outside and eat.

Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on a fine Fall afternoon.

Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on a fine Fall afternoon.

The grilled cheese part is easy (though: 1. use great bread; 2. get great cheese; 3. use evoo instead of butter; 4. put a heavy cast-iron pan on your sandwiches as they’re cooking (with a sheet of wax paper between your sandwich and the bottom of the heavy pan)).

The tomato soup is a little (just a little) more tricky.

The default is some canned atrocity:

Campbell's Tomato Soup ingredients.

Campbell’s Tomato Soup ingredients.

Certainly, there are alternatives to Campbell’s, but even those tend to have ingredients like milk and cane sugar.

There’s really no need for this. It takes roughly 30 minutes to make it from scratch, and it’s just so much better. Particularly, now, when the tomatoes are abundant (and almost gone).

Here’s how:

Tomato Soup Recipe

Make the armomatics
1. Fill the largest pot you have with water, and put it over high heat with a lid.
2. Roughly chop:
a. 2-3 large carrots (peeled)
b. one medium onion
c. one red bell pepper (stemmed and seeded)
d. 2 cloves of garlic (mince these)
3. Add the above to a sautée pan that has been heated (over medium heat) with 1T of evoo in the order you chopped it; waiting a minute or two between each addition. Stir every now and then. Add 2t of kosher salt.

Peel the tomatoes
4. Fill a big bowl with ice and water.
5. Using a sharp knife (the goal is to just pierce the skin – don’t push the knife in too far)Make X marks in the bottom of 4 or 5 softball size tomatoes,
6. By the time the water is boiling – 10-15 minutes – the vegetables should be softened, but not limp. Take them off the heat.
7. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water. Watch them closely; in about a minute you should see the skin starting to blister a bit around the X marks you made. Take them out of the boiling water, and drop them into the ice water.
8. Once they’re cool enough to handle, peel back the skin under running water (it should slide right off).

Combine the aromatics with the peeled/seeded tomatoes
9. Dump the water from the pot you had the boiling water in and put it back on the stove over medium heat with a few T of evoo.
10. Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out as many of the seeds as you can under running water; breaking them up with your hands and pulling out the stems. Drop the tomato pieces into the pot with the now hot evoo.
11. Pour the vegetable mixture from the sautée pan into the pot with the tomatoes. Stir and bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down to a simmer.
12. Let simmer for 20 minutes.

Blend the soup
13. A Vitamix is best – do it in two batches – using the highest setting for a minute or so (make sure to leave the air hole on the blender lid open so the heat can escape). An immersion blender or non-Vitamix blender will work too, but make sure you REALLY blend it.
14. Wipe the pot clean of any residual chunks, and pour the now smooth soup back in. Heat and adjust the seasonings.

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It’s hot now. That good kind of August hot. As I once lived in New Orleans, I do know heat, and the North Shore of Boston is not heat. Here it just sort of teases you a little bit…catching a glimpse of cardinal out of the corner of your eye before it disappears behind a tree. NOLA heat is not subtle….a black iron skillet dropped on a shoeless toe.

Nevertheless, who wants to turn on an oven or stovetop in August? And why would you?

Close your eyes and reach into the box of tomatoes at any farmer’s market right now and you’ll be right and rewarded.

Doubly so if you’re as lucky as I was today and see a container of white anchovies in the little refrigerator at Vidalias.

Recipe: Summer Tomato “Carpaccio” with White Anchovies 

Make the brilliant “vinaigrette” as described in Genius Recipes by peeling and smashing a few cloves of garlic and putting them in a small bowl with 2T of red wine vinegar and a 2t of kosher salt.

Let it sit while you do the rest:

Slice a tomato very thinly with a serrated bread knife

Fan out the tomato slices on a plate

Cut a very fresh onion into a few super-thin slices, and — ala Thomas Keller — rinse the onion to “make it a little less harsh,” and then chop it up

Make yourself a Campari and soda

Lay a white anchovy on top of every other tomato (or, if you’re me, on every tomato)

Sprinkle the onions over the tomatoes/anchovies

Now, pour the garlic-infused vinegar over the tomato/anchovy; careful to hold back the garlic with your finger

Pour a little good evoo on top

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